When is my child ready for her first dental visit?
The first dental visit should occur as soon as a child has teeth, which is usually no later than age one. Now that first dental visit can oftentimes be incredibly challenging. Other times, it is a very smooth visit. Each child is different, especially when they are that young.
A Knee-to-Knee Exam
What I’ll typically do for the first dental visit is have children come, and based on their comfort within the office, I usually recommend coming with a parent. We are very family friendly here and we want to make sure that kids do feel welcome. For the child, normally what I’ll do is what’s called a knee-to-knee exam. I will sit facing the parent, have the parent hold the child with them facing them, and lean them back into my lap, and do a knee-to-knee exam.
During this exam, I just want to make sure that everything is as it should be for their age. Many times that will happen up until the child is about age two, but every child is different. Sometimes even very, very young kids will climb up in the chair and allow us to clean their teeth very easily just because they’re that independent. We just have to work with kids wherever they are out in their developmental stage, not just dentally but elsewise.
When Can Children Clean Their Own Teeth?
The other thing that we want to make sure we’re doing at that first dental visit is educating the parents on how to clean their teeth. We have many parents who say, “Oh, my child loves to brush their teeth. They just chew on the toothbrush.” We want to make sure that they’re getting some fluoride through toothpaste but no too much, not too little. And we want to see that parents realize that up until a child is about age 10, they don’t have the manual dexterity to adequately clean their teeth. We help parents to know that based on where their child actually is, that they’re getting in there and cleaning their teeth. Whether that child be nine months old or nine years old.