You want the absolute best for your kids, and that includes their teeth. You’ve got a family dentist that’s just great, but she specializes in adults, not children. You wonder, “Is that enough for my infant? What about my four year old?” The nagging question in your mind is, “When should I take my child to a pediatric dentist?”
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It’s a big question because there’s a lot that can go wrong with teeth, especially new ones in children. However, with proper care and early check-ups, these concerns can be mitigated and ultimately dealt with. So the questions remain: when to take your child to a pediatric dentist and how soon should you start doing so?
The First Check-Up
Though there are differing opinions, many dentists agree your child’s first check-up should be within six months of the appearance of your infant’s first tooth, or at the most, once he or she is one year old.
It’s safe to expect that your child’s first teeth will come through within four to seven months, which means, either way, you should plan for that first visit when your child is about a year old.
Pediatric or General Dentist?
The next big question on your mind is whether to take your child to your family dentist or search out a specially trained pediatric dentist.
There are advantages to both. Your family dentist knows your family’s collective history and genetic traits to watch for. You’re comfortable with this professional and know his or her qualities and likely feel quite comfortable in the space. This can mean a lot to your children, as they will pick up on your feelings.
On the other hand, a pediatric dentist is specially trained to work with children, meaning they are well-versed in techniques of pediatric dentistry, such as child development theories. They also enjoy working with children and know how to create a positive dental experience for kids of all ages.
What to Expect at the First Visit
Your child’s first visit to the dentist is about several things. First, it’s about introducing your child to the dentist and becoming comfortable with the experience. Second, it’s a chance for you to ask questions about your child’s dental care. Finally, the check-up, which is likely to be brief, will actually look at your child’s teeth, gums, jaw, oral tissue, and bite in order to begin a patient history.
It’s Not Just for Kids
Another advantage of going to a pediatric dentist is for education, both for your child but also for you. Especially when your children are infants, it’s important you, as a parent, know how to properly care for an infant’s teeth. They will one day fall out to be replaced by adult teeth, but baby teeth serve the important function of saving space for adult teeth.
At that first visit, make sure you ask all your questions (consider bringing a pad of paper to write down the answers). You may not realize it, but you have lots of questions and the dentist is the expert who can help set you on the correct path to oral care.
You’ll also learn helpful hints on how to educate your child and on your role as a parent when it comes to dental care. This will help you maintain a positive, healthy environment at home when it comes to looking after teeth.
Once the first tooth comes through, it’s never too early to go to a pediatric dentist to acclimatize your child to the experience, develop positive relationships, learn proper dental and oral hygiene, and ensure your child has the best smile.