The majority of American children don’t start going to the dentist until well after the age of two, according to the findings of a 2009 study by Morpace. But is 2 years old too late for their first visit?
Dentists agree that children should start attending the dentist at around one year of age. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says that children should visit the dentist twelve months into their lives, or around six months after their first tooth erupts.
Why Should Kids Go To The Dentist At Age One?
There are many reasons why children need to go to the dentist from an early age. Many parents believe that children under the age of two are “too young” to need the help of a dental professional, but Dr. Weyneth stresses that this isn’t true.
Going to the dentist from an early age, for instance, helps to normalize the experience for children. Attending the dentist from the first year of life helps avoid the fear and anxiety that can accompany dental visits if they begin later on.
Second, going to the dentist from an early age helps to preserve baby teeth, keeping them in place until they fall out naturally when the child’s adult teeth come through.
Unlike what some parents believe, baby teeth are absolutely vital. Their main benefit is in speech development. Kids rely on their baby teeth to give their mouths the structure that they need to pronounce particular words. Baby teeth are also important for saving space for when adult teeth come through and help kids chew properly to maintain healthy nutrition.
Finally, coming to the dentist at an early age helps to teach young children about the importance of good oral hygiene habits. We can stop the development of plaque and decay in its tracks and show kids how they should brush to keep their teeth healthy. Visits like these can provide your child with the foundation to maintain good oral health practices for life.
How To Prepare Older Children For The Dentist
What if you have an older child who has never been to the dentist before? How do you prepare them for it?
Dr. Weyneth recommends that parents educate their children about what happens at the dentist and why it is so important to visit us regularly. When children hear the noises heard at the office and see strange-looking instruments, it can worry them. It’s important to point out that going to the dentist is a way to protect against tooth decay and tooth loss and reduce the chance of having bad teeth in the future. Getting them used to being in the office, sometimes even bringing them in for a practice run, will ease their anxiety.
Children should also be well-rested before their first visit to the dentist. A tired, anxious child will likely have a less positive experience of the dentist’s chair compared to one who is feeling energetic.
Finally, parents can also play at being a dentist, looking inside children’s mouths and examining their teeth to prepare them for the real thing and show that it is not scary.
Call us if you have questions about the development and care of your baby’s teeth and to schedule an appointment. We look forward to having you and your children come to our Naperville family dental practice!