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When Should I Take My Baby to the Dentist?

Did you know that children should have

their first dental visit after their

first tooth appears or before their

first birthday? This visit is important

because as soon as your child's baby

teeth appear they can develop cavities.

In most cases, the first visit is mainly

for the dentist to examine your child's

mouth and to check for growth and

development. During the visit, you can

expect the dentist check for mouth

injuries cavities or other problems. If

your child is going through a tough time

with teething or in the habit of thumb

sucking or excessive pacifier use, ask

your dentist for advice on how to handle

these issues. When scheduling the

appointment, try to choose a time when

she will be more cooperative. Morning

appointments tend to be a good time. Try

to avoid scheduling an appointment

during her usual nap time since this

could lead to a cranky visit. Some dental

offices will give you the opportunity to

fill out paperwork ahead of time. If you

have dental insurance, be sure she's

included on the plan before the

appointment. On the day of the visit make

sure your child has had a light meal

beforehand. Some children may gag so you

want to avoid a heavy meal before the

appointment. Try not to give snacks in

the waiting room because those will be

all over her teeth during the visit

which will make the examination

difficult. Here are a few tips to help

make the experience positive. Try not to

let her know if you're concerned or

anxious about the visit. Children can

pick up on your emotions. Emphasize the

positive. Don't use a dental visit as a

punishment or as a way to bribe your

child. Talk with your child about

visiting the dentist. Let her know she's

going to meet new people and ride up and

down in a dental chair. Have her practice

opening her mouth so that the dentist

can count and check her teeth. Make it

fun and let her look and count your

teeth as well. There are many children's

books and videos that can help you

prepare for the visit. Reading stories or

watching videos about a first dental

visit may help your child be less

fearful and more

confident. If she's upset during the visit,

work with your dentist to calm her. It's

important that you trust the dentist and

let them lead the conversation. Give the

dentist a chance to turn the visit

around. Don't wait for your child to start

school or until there's a dental

emergency for her to go to the dentist.

Being proactive about the future of your

child's dental health today will help

her for the rest of her life. To learn

more about taking care of your teeth and

gums visit mouthhealthy.org