A child’s primary teeth, sometimes called “baby teeth,” are as important as the permanent adult teeth. Primary teeth typically begin to appear when a baby is between age 6 months and 1 year. Primary teeth help children chew and speak. They also hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums.
At Dentistry on Lakeshore, we recommend that your child visit the office within six months of the appearance of the first tooth and no later than the first birthday. A dental visit at an early age is a “well-baby checkup” for the teeth. Besides checking for tooth decay and other problems, Dr. Butany can show you how to clean the child’s teeth properly and how to evaluate any adverse habits such as thumbsucking.
When teeth first come in, some babies may have sore or tender gums. Gently rubbing your child’s gums with a clean finger, a small, cool spoon or a wet gauze pad can be soothing. You can also give the baby a clean teething ring to chew on. If your child is still cranky and in pain, consult your dentist or physician. Most children have a full set of 20 primary teeth by the time they are 3.
What happens at the first dental visit? You will be asked to complete medical and health information forms concerning the child during the first visit. Come prepared with the necessary information.
The first dental appointment gives your child an opportunity to meet the dentist in a non-threatening way. The visit is usually short and involves very little treatment. Some dentists may ask the parent to sit in the dental chair with their child during the examination. The parent may also be asked to wait in the reception area during part of the visit. The dentist will determine what is most appropriate during the first few minutes of the appointment.
During the examination, your dentist will check all of your child’s existing teeth for decay, examine the child’s bite, and look for any potential problems with the gums, jaw and oral tissues.
When should a child get their first dental x-ray? There is no set rule for when a child should start getting dental x-rays. Some children who may be at higher risk for dental problems should have x-rays taken earlier than others. Usually most children will have x-rays taken by the age of 5 or 6. As children begin to get their adult teeth around the age of 6, x-rays play an important role in helping your dentist. X-rays allow your dentist to see if all the adult teeth are growing in the jaw, and to look for bite problems and to determine if teeth are clean and healthy.
First visit Do’s and Don’ts
Do: Have a tour of the dental office by going in for a friendly visit and check up - Make an appointment for a visual check of your child’s teeth - Have a discussion with your dental hygienist or dentist about oral health care for your child - Familiarize your child with the dental office. Consider taking them along when you or a sibling has a dental appointment
Don’t: Wait for an emergency for the first visit - Over prepare your children for dental visits - Use phrases like “it won’t hurt much” or “it won’t be too bad”. Such phrases do not soothe; they only create anxiety.
With a pleasant first visit, and regular check-ups, your child will not think twice about trips to the dentist. Good luck, and have fun at your child’s first dental visit!