As parents of an infant, taking your child to the dentist may seem like something you can leave until there are visible teeth to take care of. However, the Canadian Dental Association recommends visiting your dentist for an assessment at the signs of a first tooth or by at least 12 months of age.
The first visit can help your child learn to become comfortable with their dentist and establish a positive association with the clinic. A quick check of their teeth and gums should be it! Subsequent visits should be every six months for child dental care, the same as for adults.
3 Reasons to Bring Your Child to The Dentist Early
- Build trust. Showing trust in your dentist can teach your child that visits to the dentist are safe and desensitize them to the environment.
- Check technique. Find out if your teeth and gum cleaning routine at home is working. If spots are being missed, early discovery is key to keeping those teeth healthy!
- Proactive approach. By visiting the dentist every six months, your dentist can be proactive and catch any developing issues early. These are preventive visits!
As a parent, it’s important to know that a child’s baby teeth are at risk of developing early childhood tooth decay as their protective enamel is thinner than that of permanent adult teeth. Tooth decay can be painful and cumbersome, impacting your child’s overall health. It can also trigger issues with sleeping, speaking or eating, as well as their ability to focus or learn.
Tips to Form Good Dental Care Habits for Your Child
- Take your child for their first dental visit at around 12 months old.
- Begin cleaning even before the first tooth appears! Using a clean damp cloth or the appropriate type of gauze, wipe your baby’s gums twice a day.
- Avoid offering bottles prior to naps or bedtime. If you can’t avoid it, try using water instead of milk or juice to avoid decay or sugar build up while the child sleeps. Limit time with a bottle to five minutes or less to help prevent orthodontic issues.
- At the first sign of a tooth, brush your child’s teeth daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride-free toothpaste until they’re old enough to spit it out themselves (usually around 3 years old).
- Let your child practice brushing by copying you, then finish for them, making sure that all surfaces have been cleaned. Your child will need help with brushing until they’re about 8 years old.
- Teach your child to brush for two minutes twice a day.
- Replace toothbrushes every few months or when they begin to show signs of wear, such as flattening or bushy bristles.
- Bring your child for regular dental visits. Every six months is best, but this may vary depending on your dentist or child's health.