Dental care is extremely important no matter the age of the individual. Whether a patient is 6 months old or 60 years old. Regular dental visits are important since oral health vastly impacts one’s overall health. In fact, adults and children should visit with their dentist at least once every 6 months (biannually) in order to receive routine cleanings and dental exams. So, what should be expected for babies? Should babies also visit the dentist every 6 months?
Your Baby’s First Dental Visit:
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a general rule to follow is “First visit by first birthday.” Your child should visit with a pediatric dentist by no later than their first before or by the time that the first tooth erupts in the mouth. Generally, this occurs between 6 and 12 months of age. As Ashburn, VA’s best pediatric dentist, we have enlisted Dr. Konz to give us some advice.
During your child’s first dental visit, both you and your child will become familiar with the pediatric dentist. This is the chance as a parent to ask the pediatric dentist any questions or voice any concerns that you may have. It is important not to push this visit off because the sooner you can get your child familiar with the dentist, the sooner they will also get acclimated to the dental chair in the event that they ever do need dental work. Once your child is comfortable with the dentist, the more likely your child will have healthy oral hygiene habits that will continue throughout their lifetime into adulthood.
Following your baby’s initial visit to the pediatric dentist, you should also expect to bring your child back every 6 months (biannually) unless dental concerns arise sooner.
Importance of An Early Dental Visit:
While it may seem early to take your baby to the dentist by the time of their first birthday or when their first tooth erupts (whichever comes first), but it is actually important when practicing preventative care. Dental problems or concerns can occur early on and it is best to have these caught sooner rather than later. A common concern among young babies and children is Early Childhood Caries, which is also known as “baby bottle tooth decay.” Baby teeth are at risk from tooth decay once they are consuming more than just breast-milk and by bringing your baby to the pediatric dentist when expected you can be sure that you are helping your child to have a healthy smile.
Precautions to Prevent Tooth Decay for your Baby:
If able, it is best practice to avoid breastfeeding once the first baby tooth appears in your child’s mouth. It is extremely important that you don’t allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing anything other than water at bedtime. Since juices contain high contents of sugar, which often can lead to tooth decay, juice intake should be limited and be given only in a cup (not bottle-fed).
Tips for Successful Dental Visits:
- When scheduling your baby’s first dental appointment or future appointments, try an early morning when children tend to be well rested.
- Try to stay positive for all dental visits! Not every visit may go as planned, but with a positive attitude throughout each visit, your child will pick up on this. As kids, they know when parents feel uneasy; don’t let them feel anything less than comfortable!
- Don’t establish “going to the dentist” be viewed as a punishment for children. The dentist should be enjoyable for every child regardless of how old and what treatment is being performed!