When I took my son to the dentist for the first time, he was about three years old. It was a disaster! And this was a child who was normally happy, agreeable, social, and who listened to reason! He did not want to open his mouth for this stranger (the dentist) and when he finally did, he started crying and the dentist could not continue. That was the start of many fearful visits to the dentist!
Looking back, if we’d started visiting the dentist earlier in his life, I feel he wouldn’t have been so fearful. I now know more about first dental visits and also about the care of gums and first teeth. So I’m going to share what I know with those of you who are expecting, or have an infant, to help make your experiences more positive.
Here are some tips:
- Babies should meet their dentist by age one. The Canadian Dental Association recommends that infants be seen by a dentist within six months of when the first tooth appears or by one year of age. That means, if your child has a tooth by three months, they should visit the dentist by nine months. A quick look inside your child’s mouth will help identify and avoid any future concerns. Some dentists will only see your child at the age of three, or when all their teeth have come in. If that’s the case, Halton Region can assist you with finding a dentist that will see your child at age one. Once your child turns three, you can switch your child to the family dentist if you choose.
- Figure out the best time to book the dental appointment. Plan for a time when your child is in a good mood, and not likely to be hungry or tired. Most babies or toddlers are more cooperative in the morning when they are well rested.
- Bring along your child’s security blanket or a loved toy for a feeling of security. You will also be able to hold your baby on your lap while the dentist looks in their mouth. And keep a positive outlook – your child can sense your mood and tension.
- Obtain information early from your dentist about mouth care and nutrition. This will help with the development of healthy baby teeth. This in turn helps with chewing food, learning to speak properly and holding space for adult teeth.
- Start wiping the inside of your baby’s mouth with a wet, damp cloth after feedings, even before teeth appear. Doing this routinely, will ensure that the bacteria and sticky plaque are removed from the gums. This routine will also help your baby to get used to having someone’s finger in their mouth. Once teeth start to show, use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush, water and non-fluoridated toothpaste to brush your child’s teeth, at least two times per day. (You can use fluoride toothpaste when your child turns three or once they are able to spit out the toothpaste).
Thank goodness my son eventually overcame his fear of the dentist, and as it turns out he is the most religious tooth brusher and flosser in the family! Then again – maybe that’s because he’s still afraid of the dentist! Lol!
Tell us how your child’s first visit goes!
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For parenting information or to speak with a public health nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.