The first question that should be asked by any parent, in regards to their child’s teeth, should be: “When should I schedule my baby’s first visit to the dentist?”
There are likely plenty of other pressing dental questions on a new parent’s minds, but your dentist–not Google–is best suited to answer those questions.
The answer is simple. It’s the same answer provided by the Canadian and Ontario Dental Associations, the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Academy of Pediatrics and all their American counter parts – most notably the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD):
By the child’s first tooth or first birthday.
Yes, you read that right. You should schedule your baby’s first visit to the dentist by the first birthday or first tooth. Why? The purpose of this is to establish a “dental home” for your child.
As the AAPD suggests, the dental home should provide:
- Comprehensive oral health care, which includes acute care and preventive services.
- Comprehensive assessment for oral diseases and conditions.
- An individualized preventive dental health program based upon a caries-risk assessment and a periodontal disease risk assessment.
- Guidance about growth and development issues (eg. teething, digit or pacifier habits).
- A plan for acute dental trauma.
- Information about proper care of the child’s teeth and gingivae. This would include the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease of the supporting and surrounding tissues and the maintenance of health, function, and aesthetics of those structures and tissues;
- Dietary counseling.
- Referrals to dental specialists when care cannot directly be provided within the dental home.
Why then are so many family dentists and their staffs only willing to see children at “about 3 years old” and only when it’s just for a ride in the chair with mom?
The simple answer is that crying kids don’t brighten anyone’s day. In all honesty, most kids will cry if a stranger tries to put his or her hands in their mouth. Who wouldn’t?! As a concerned and conscientious parent, however, avoiding tears shouldn’t be a good enough reason to not to be invested in your child’s oral health.
The earlier you can instill any habit, the better the chances are of having those habits and actions be comfortable and not scary.
Pediatric dentists like myself (who encourage parents to bring their kids in for their first visit to the dentist by their first birthday), are working towards that very goal of reducing the numbers of tears.
The earlier you can instill any habit and make it commonplace to a child, the better the chances are of having those habits and actions be comfortable and natural. If those habits are comfortable, they’re not scary or worthy of “the waterworks.”
So what can you get for a birthday gift for the one-year-old that has everything? Why not consider a roadmap to a lifetime of good oral health?
Bring him or her for their first visit to the dentist by the first tooth or first birthday.
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