While it’s easy to assume your child doesn’t need to see a dentist until they have a full set of teeth, it’s important to remember that dentistry isn’t just about teeth. It’s about whole mouth health including gums and lips. Many babies begin teething at around three months old, with the first teeth appearing some time between six to nine months. However, it won’t be the same for every child. So, when should your child start visiting the dentist?
When to take your child to the dentist
Baby teeth matter and protecting them can help prevent issues to adult teeth in the future. According to the Australian Dental Association, the best time to take your child to their first dental visit is when your child’s first tooth becomes visible or they reach 12 months old, whichever comes first. After your child’s first visit, it’s recommended they see the dentist every six months, but it’s important to speak to your dentist about your child’s visits and how regularly they should be.
In saying that, prevention is always better than cure and early dental visits will help protect your child from tooth decay. So, if you notice anything out of the ordinary or if you’re concerned about anything, it’s better to be safe and book in a dental visit.
How to prevent toothy problems
Tooth decay is on the rise in Australia with an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report finding that nearly half of Australia’s six-year-old children had a history of decay in their baby teeth. Decaying baby teeth can damage the permanent teeth underneath so it’s important to keep your child’s teeth and gums clean to protect against infection, cavities and pain.
During your child’s first dental visit, your dentist will take a full medical history and look at health and development factors that may affect your child’s overall mouth health. Your dentist may discuss things like brushing techniques, nutritional advice and habits such as thumb sucking. It’s important to listen to the advice and follow it to make sure good habits are formed early.
The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne’s national children’s health poll also found that one in three pre-schoolers don’t have their teeth cleaned twice a day. You can help prevent tooth decay by supervising your child brushing their teeth to make sure they reach every tooth. Make sure your child is brushing their teeth twice a day, in the morning and before bed at night. Your dentist will also be able to demonstrate to your child how they should be brushing their teeth.
Tips for positive dental visits
It’s no secret that many children (and adults) are scared of the dentist. It’s important to make your child’s dental visits a positive experience from the beginning so they can become familiar with the routine. Here are some tips to help make your child’s dental visit a positive one:
- Never use a trip to the dentist as a punishment or a threat.
- Take your child with you when you have a check-up so that they can see what happens.
- Don’t bribe your child.
- Don’t tell your child that it will (or will not) hurt.
- Make sure you only say positive things about your dental experiences in front of children. Children learn about the dentist by listening to others.
- Try making your dental appointments earlier in the day so your child isn’t as tired.
- Combine the dental visit with a fun activity afterwards like a trip to the park or having a friend over to play.
The Royal Children’s Hospital’s Poll report found that half of Australian parents aren’t aware of the free dental services that may be available to their children under government schemes. All children under the age of 18 can access free public dental services in New South Wales. Medicare can cover part of or the full payment of your child’s dental visit. You can check if you qualify on the Child Dental Benefits Scheme website here.
Extra family member discount
At Gosford Family Dentist, we provide a stress-free environment and a variety of paediatric dental treatments for your child’s visits. It’s important to make sure your child is seeing a dentist regularly so contact Gosford Family Dentist to schedule your next appointment. Speak to us today about how you can bring an extra family member along and receive a discount!