When Should My Child Start Going to the Dentist??

"When should my child start going to the dentist?" is a frequently asked question. The Academy of Pediatric Dentistry does recommend that your child come in sometime during the first year. I would agree that by the age of 18 months, the child should be seen at the dentist's office for a "look/see" exam. This allows the dentsit to see if there are any problems starting to arise and address them ASAP! This time with the child and dentist allows the parent to ask questions about tooth care and maybe some other questions they dont feel their pediatrician can answer.

If a yound child is having a serious problem we usually refer them to a Pedodontist(a child dentist specialist). Many times they may take care of any tooth decay in a hospital setting where the child can be controlled with a general anesthetic and all dental care can usually be performed in one day. If a child of 3 or older has minimal dental problems they can usually be taken care of in the dental office using "laughing gas" which is actually called nitrous oxide. This is a very safe way to relax children.

The best advice I can give on tooth care is to get your child used to you being in his mouth NOW and brush or massage their gums twice a day. You should be using either a childs toothbrush or a washcloth to wipe the teeth. This is especially important before bedtime after your child takes his/her last bottle. You dont want to leave milk on their teeth! That can lead to baby bottle tooth decay or nursing decay. Most children at about the age of 2 will begin to fight you brushing their teeth and will tell you that they can do it themselves. However, they can not!

Most children need help with brushing their teeth until about 5 years old. With my children, I laid them on the bathroom counter on a towel, stood between them and brushed their teeth til they were 3. After that, I allowed them to brush on their own and I would check to make sure all their teeth were touched with the toothbrush. Too bad I still can not do that to them at age 12!

One more thing... They do not need toothpaste until their molars come in. Currently the recommendation is to wait on fluoridated toothpaste until the child can spit it out. That has been debated but for now, I would use a kids, non-fluoridated toothpaste until you child can spit.

I hope this was helpful! As always feel free to share you comments or concerns!