No later than age one or two, according to dentists, or as soon as your child’s first tooth erupts. Parents should definitely not wait until the child has a toothache, tooth decay, or cavity, or until the child is about to go to school.
The first time you take your child to the dentist will be more about making him feel comfortable. Ideally, your child should not be afraid when he sits on the dental chair, whether or not he does so on his own or on your lap, so that his first dental examination will be a pleasant experience and he will always look forward to the next one.
During your child’s first visit, the dentist will help him become familiar with the environment and routine, introducing him to the chair, dental tools, and even some dental terms. When he’s ready and comfortable, the dentist will then do a quick oral examination. He will look for signs of tooth decay, gum problems, bottle caries, jaw development abnormalities, and other conditions that could hinder healthy and normal teeth growth and speech development. The dentist will also take this opportunity to discuss with you and your child the importance of good oral hygiene and how to maintain good oral health in young children.
Regular dental checkups for your child can be every three months or every year – this will be determined by the dentist. Every visit, the dentist will continue checking your child’s oral development and look for signs of possible problems, such as teeth grinding or a lisp. Sticking to your child’s checkup schedule will also be a great way to help him develop healthy oral care habits that he’ll keep long after his baby teeth have gone.
According to an article on TheGuardian.com, a survey of nearly 500 parents with children under 12 years of age, and which was conducted by Mintel, revealed that close to 50% did not take their children for regular visits to the dentist. The survey also found that:
- Only 1 out of 5 parents knew that their children needed to visit a dentist as soon their baby teeth grew; and
- Only 63% of mothers and 50% of fathers ensured that their children brushed their teeth daily.
Many parents mistakenly believe that young children whose milk teeth have not yet been replaced by permanent teeth do not need to be taken to the dentist regularly. After all, the milk teeth will fall off no matter what. While certain dental problems, such as tooth decay and cavities, are normal among young children, they can be easily prevented these days with simple treatments. Keeping your children’s milk teeth healthy and strong is important, as even common dental problems can affect their overall health, and how you take care of their oral health while they’re still young sets an example for them to follow until they’re adults.