Watching Out for Your Child’s Oral Health from Day One
There’s a lot to be said for starting out on the right foot. It can make a huge difference in your job, on a date, and even in your oral health. As parents, it’s our job to make sure that our kids get off on the right foot in many areas of life. When it comes to their oral health, part of this is doing your best to ensure that they start getting regular dental care from an early age. Ideally, your child should have their first dental visit somewhere between when their first tooth erupts and their first birthday.
Taking your child to their first dental visit at this age has many benefits for their short- and long-term oral health — and nearly as many benefits for you! That said, it’s never too late for your child’s first appointment. Knowing what to expect from their appointment, especially if they’re young, can help you feel much more comfortable and prepared for the experience. Here’s what you can expect from your child’s first dental visit at Tomasik Family Dental.
Benefits of Early Dental Visits
Bringing your child to the dentist regularly when they’re young has a range of benefits for you and your child. Baby teeth have a thinner layer of protective enamel than adult teeth, so it’s important to check regularly to ensure that they’re healthy. Regular dental appointments allow you to do just that, as their pediatric dentist will be able to catch problems like tooth decay or gum disease early. He’ll also be able to spot any places where plaque might be building up, helping you know to pay more attention to that area during your child’s regular oral hygiene routine. These visits also play an active role in preventing oral health issues from arising in the first place and allows their dentist to keep an eye on the development of your child’s baby teeth. This way, you know that your child’s teeth are developing normally and can ensure that they stay healthy in the long run.
Plus, when you start your child at the dentist early, they can begin building trust with our friendly team and develop positive associations with trips to our office. This creates a comfortable atmosphere and helps them remain calm and happy during dental visits, which makes the experience easier and more enjoyable for both you and your child. It may also make it easier for you to encourage them to form healthy oral hygiene habits at home — and that can make all the difference for your child’s oral health even as they grow up and become adults!
During your child’s appointment, Dr. Tomasik will check their teeth for decay, examine their gums, and evaluate their bite and jaws. The goal of this initial examination is to ensure that their teeth and gums are healthy and that their teeth and jaws are developing normally. Generally, Dr. Tomasik begins giving children professional cleanings during their exam between the ages of four and five, so younger children likely won’t have their teeth cleaned unless he determines that they need it.
Your child’s dentist will also spend a significant portion of the appointment speaking to you about your child, their current oral hygiene practices, habits like pacifier use or thumb-sucking, and any medical diagnoses they may have. He will also be able to ask any questions you have about your child’s oral health and hygiene. He’s here to help you as much as he is to help your little one, so their pediatric dentist is a great resource for advice on the best oral health practices for your little one. He can demonstrate the proper method to brush their teeth or offer advice on how to get your child more interested in or accepting of a regular oral hygiene routine. A truly friendly dentist like the dentists on our team is your partner in caring for your child’s oral health, so they want to ensure that your child’s at-home care routine is effective and goes as smoothly as possible for both you and your child.
Treatments to Protect Teeth
A pediatric dentist can also apply a fluoride treatment or sealant to your child’s teeth to help protect them from decay. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps strengthen tooth enamel and fight decay. This is why fluoride is often found in toothpaste and mouthwash and why tap water throughout the United States is usually fluoridated. Sealants are a thin, clear plastic coating that is applied to the chewing surface of your child’s molars to create a barrier between their tooth enamel and harmful sugars and bacteria. Since baby teeth are more vulnerable to decay and kids are still learning how to brush and floss their teeth thoroughly, fluoride treatments and sealants can be particularly useful for helping your child’s teeth stay healthy.
These treatments are optional and aren’t always part of your child’s dental appointment, so they won’t always add time to your visit. If you do decide to get one of these treatments for your child, the application process is quick and easy, so it still shouldn’t add much time to your appointment. If you’re not sure whether or not these treatments could benefit your child, you can always discuss them with your child’s dentist during the appointment.
Length of Your Visit
Since younger children don’t typically receive professional cleanings, the length of your child’s visit with their pediatric dentist will depend upon how old they are. Younger children need much shorter appointments than older children do. If your child is 12 months old or younger, their first dental visit will likely be short, with most of your time spent talking to their dentist after he examines your child’s teeth, jaws, and bite. You can expect slightly longer visits for children around 3 years old or more, as their exams begin to take a little more time. Once they begin needing professional cleanings, their exams will begin taking a bit longer — closer to the amount of time your dental appointments take.
Dental appointments are a vital part of ensuring that your child’s teeth and gums are healthy and developing normally as well as a great resource on the best ways to care for your child’s oral health at home. We know that their first appointment can feel daunting, but knowing what to expect will help you and your child feel more comfortable, ensuring that it’s a positive experience for both of you no matter how old your child is!