When should children see a dentist for the first time?
We recommend kids see the dentist for the first time by the time their first tooth erupts or by the age of one. Many times, that’s what we call a happy visit.
We get the kids in the office and show them some of the tools that we use. Some of the tools that we use can be very, very scary and overwhelming for kids. To introduce them, we’ll use them on the parent or an older sibling, and just kind of get them comfortable in the office.
We can also identify any habits that may be happening which could be harmful to kids’ teeth, such as having something to drink at bedtime other than water, or a pacifier or a thumb-sucking habit. We coach parents on how to make sure that we work on prevention so that their children’s mouths stay happy and healthy.
So, the first visit is all about prevention?
It is. Usually kids will surprise you with how comfortable they are at the dentist. My older son, he had his teeth cleaned at age one. My younger son, he’s two and a half, and we still struggle with it. It all depends on the child.
Sometimes kids do a lot better with parents not in the room, because they have full attention on the person who’s trying to help them. A lot of times, I’ll tell parents to just stand behind a wall. Kids will usually let us do whatever we need to do – do an examination, clean their teeth. Kids will surprise you.