February 4, 2019 - Roland Chong

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At what age should children start seeing a dentist?

Children should start seeing a dentist from the age of about 12-18 months of age or whenever they start to show teeth erupting. This is a recommendation based on guidelines by most of the dental authorities around the world.

Reasons for seeing a dentist early for children.

  1. Introduction to the dentist and their team.
  2. Exposing the child to the dental environment when they are not in pain or discomfort.
  3. Creating a positive first contact with the dental team.
  4. Gaining valuable advise from the dentist about caring for the teeth from dental decay to dental trauma and what to do if accidents happen to affect teeth.
  5. Starting the process of monitoring for future orthodontic problems.

What you should and shouldn’t do for your child before seeing a dentist?

Creating a positive first visit to the dentist starts at home. There are some things which you as a parent should be mindful of when preparing your child for the first visit.

Do’s:

  1. Find child friendly books which you can read to your child about dental visits.
  2. Keep talking about the visits with positive comments.
  3. Associate positive and non-threatening things about the visit ie, Use terms like ‘tooth fairy friend’ to describe the dental team.
  4. Let them know they will be going for a fun ride on a special chair to create some anticipation for a future fun activity.

Don’t

  1. Discipline the child by using dentistry or the dentist as a deterrant for bad behaviour.
  2. Impose your fears on the child with stories about needles, pain or removal of teeth.
  3. Let others who may speak about bad experiences be overheard by the child. Children are more intuitive than what we credit them with at any age.
  4. Bribe your child into going to see the dentist.

What to expect when you first see the dental team?

The dental team are very good at dealing with the child and family with the very first visit. The first greeting is the most important aspect of the visit. At ProCare Family Dental we try to make the first point of contact with as little fuss as possible. When the child is very young, 12 months or less, we would do a knee to knee examination. This involves the child laying down on the laps of both parent and dentist. The child’s head on the dentist lap facing the parent.

Figure 1.  Knee to knee examination. Shows position of parent and clinician examining child. Courtesy of hellosmile.

The aim of the first visit is to allow the child to develop a level of familiarity with the dental team and surroundings. We will have a look in the mouth at the soft tissues and teeth. Spend a lot of time speaking to the parent after the examination about preventative measures against dental disease and what to do if they happen to knock their teeth.

The very first dental visit should be fun and painless for both child and parent!

 

 

Roland Chong

Roland has over 18 years experience as a general dentist. Roland does all aspects of general dentistry with a special interest in prosthodontics (crown and bridge work) and cosmetic dentistry. A member of the International Team of Implantology, Roland is constantly developing his skills by collaborating with international experts.