''But they're only baby teeth''
These words are the bane of any family dentist.
Baby teeth are of course very important for children while growing up. Problems with baby teeth can lead to issues with crowding, and weakened enamel for adult teeth, as they grow directly beneath them. The last baby tooth falls out at age 12, so a problem detected at age 6 can have a long way to stay in the mouth until then.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends bringing a child to the dentist when their first baby tooth erupts, and not any later than age 1.
Often, a child will attend their first dentist at age 6-8, sometimes the child has a pain or problem. The adult's own anxiety if it exists will be picked up on by the child, and they will probably also be a little anxious for their visit to go well. This is not an ideal scenario as the first visit will now be in a more pressured environment for all involved.
What to do
Instead, bring your child age 1 with you to your own appointment. At Gentle Dental we love this approach as it means easier visits in the future, and better oral health for the child. You can expect a simple, informal lap-to-lap exam, with the parent holding the child. We'll have a quick look with a mirror and light if possible.
No pain, no pressure, and no problem.
With regular 6 monthly check-ups afterwards to reinforce this, the child is set up for oral health. I was watching 'Peppa Pig' the other day with my 3 year old niece. Peppa was going down to the dentist, who I believe was an elephant. Sure enough, the 'drill' was produced in the show, and the patient was squirming around in the chair. Even at this young age the child hears dentist, and is now thinking 'drill'.
Children come into the world without preconceptions, if a visit to the dentist is painless, quick, and they get a sticker at the end, they will form their own opinions before society and other pressures can influence them. Set them up for a good relationship with their dentist, and with their own oral health. They'll thank you later.
Dr John Bresnan