When should your kid start going to the dentist? About six months after they’ve started eating solid foods—yes, that early! Teeth start erupting in the mouth at about six months old, and by age one, your child should ideally have a trusted dentist in their life.
The American Dental Association recommends that children have their first dental checkup within six months of the first tooth appearing, and no later than the first birthday. This is a critical milestone because developing positive first experiences goes a long way in preventing fears or phobias of the dentist.
Imagine if your first experience with the dentist was because of tooth pain that resulted from having four cavities—and you were four years old. That’s pretty traumatic for a youngster who has never been to the dentist.
To find the right dentist for your child, you’ll want to do more than look at the first page of Google results. Talk to friends and family and see who they use. Make in-person visits to offices yourself. Many kid-friendly offices will offer a quick consult with their dentists before they even look into your kid’s mouth. Look for a congenial and professional connection between the provider and your child—find one that you trust, and that your child likes. It will take some time, which is why it helps to begin the search for a dentist as soon as solid foods are introduced to the diet.
I also recommend bringing your kid to your—yes, your!—next professional check-up and cleaning. Kids learn from the behavior of adults in their lives. You’re setting an example to your kid, showing them that going to the dentist regularly is optimal for good health, and that there is nothing scary about it. Even if you have your own apprehensions about going to the dentist, it’s important to model confidence just for this appointment! Stay calm in the exam room, and your kid will know to stay calm, too.
A child’s first visit is also an opportunity for you to ask about common parenting concerns, like thumb sucking, pacifier usage, and teething. The dentist can teach your kid, and help you refresh, the proper technique for flossing. You can ask for recommendations for the best dentist-approved kid-friendly toothpastes and toothbrushes. (Psst… Our Kids Hydroxyapatite Toothpaste tastes like cake batter, and is safe enough to eat.)
Kids are naturally curious and inquisitive, so take advantage of this marvelous time in your lives. Find them a toothbrush and toothpaste they love, teach them some fun facts about teeth, and take them to a dentist that makes everyone feel comfortable. It will go far in maintaining their oral and overall health for the rest of their lives.
About Dr. Derek
He is not only Co-Founder of RiseWell. Dr. Derek Gatta is a partner at Dr Max & Dr Gatta PLLC in Boca Raton, Florida. If you are in the area, he is your go-to dentist!