1. At what age should I take my child to their first dental visit?
Around age of 2.5–3 is the ideal age to have the first dental hygiene visit and a dental check-up. This is when all the baby teeth are supposed to erupt. The first visit is all about fun for kids and education of their parents.
2. Why should I bring my child to their first visit so soon?
Between 2 1/2-3 years of age, dentists are looking for the following when checking your child:
- 20 baby teeth -10 on the top and 10 on the bottom
- any brown sticky spots, also known as dental cavities
- good spacing in between teeth
- any build-up on teeth, also known as plaque (bacteria) or calcified spots called calculus or tartar
- assessing the child’s ability to brush their own teeth
- any suspicious lesions in the mouth or anomalies (abnormal appearance in anatomy of the soft and hard tissues
- discuss any bad habits that child has acquired and it changes the way his or her teeth are supposed to look like
- discuss toothpaste that the child is using (fluoridated toothpaste at such a young age can lead to white spots on adult teeth because the child does not know how to spit the toothpaste)
3. What are dental sealants and when is it a good idea to have them done?
Dental sealants are plastic coatings that are placed on the chewing surfaces of the permanent back teeth (molars or premolars) to help protect them from cavities (bacteria). It is done because the chewing surfaces of back teeth have grooves that make them prone to cavities. These grooves are deep and difficult to clean and can be narrower than even a single bristle of a toothbrush.
The first sealants are placed on first 6 years molars once the chewing surface of the tooth has completely erupted beyond the gum.
The best advantage of sealing the deep grooves of the back teeth is that it does not require drilling or a needle. Kids are very compliant during this preventive treatment.
4. What can I do to make my child feel comfortable during their first visit to the dental office?
The most important thing to do as a parent is to set a positive example at home. For example, you can play with your child at home – you being the dental hygienist and your child being a patient. Ask them to open their mouth wide and count their teeth together. Make it playful. Tell them how much you enjoy seeing your dentist. Take them with you while you have your routine dental hygiene visit to set an example of a safe environment. Seeing their parents in the chair assures them of safety and a comfort zone.
Please, don’t tell them: “I will take you to the dentist if you don’t behave!”
For more information: www.pearlywhitesmiles.ca