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When Should I Start Bringing My Child in for Their Dental Check-up and Why?
Chocolate for teeth, Elevate Dental Richmond

It’s not easy deciding when to best introduce your child to the dentist, especially because it’s for few adults that it’s a particularly pleasant thought.

To a kid, though, the world is a safe place and everything’s an adventure. The garbage truck arriving is an unmitigated thrill, water from a hose is a constant delight and hearing a cat purr is one of the funniest things in the universe.

This is the space they live in, and this is the space you want them to be in for as long as is possible and healthy.

There’s no need for a dentist to ruin all that. As a matter of fact, they happily support this lovely childhood paradigm by encouraging being referred to as the Tooth Fairy’s best friend, and suggesting going for a ride in the dental chair.

Woo hoo!!

A trap for young players is the assumption there’s no need to see the Tooth Fairy’s 2IC until your child has a full set of teeth. The truth is that dentistry is about more than teeth: it’s about oral health, jaw alignment, bite, and gum stability. Importantly too, it’s about the opportunity to imprint a positive dental experience that will pay off for the rest of their life. Many, many dental issues exist purely because of the long-term fear associated with being in the dentist’s chair.

So don’t be the parent that does that. Never be an adult telling a kid they have to be brave (..because it’s scary?), the dentist is not a handy, anonymous deterrent (if-you-don’t-brush-your –teeth-the-dentist-will-have-to-pull-them-out), keep bad dental experiences to yourself (even if you’ve had them) and pull, drill and needle are all four-letter words even if they’re six. This weird strategy is unlikely to change the brushing habits of a child and its only real outcome is instilling fear. Even if it’s delivered in a jokey, fantasy character way.

There is a presupposition that the quality of communication is the response: so if the morning and nightly brushing routines have become neither routine or without tears and cajoling then it’s time to reassess what you’re doing here.

The best of course, is the ice cream or lolly reward for doing it. Straight after, and right before bed…

Yay exhausted-parent thinking. Take the pressure off, hand it to a professional and take your kid for an exciting trip to the dentist! Involve them in the booking if they can say their name; at least have them listen to your phone call, and if you’re really getting into the swing of it, a secret previous call to the surgery teeing them up on the excitement of getting a ticket for the dentist’s chair, and getting the day tour of things the Tooth Fairy’s in charge of, while she’s asleep makes it memorable and fun and you can never have too much of that.

No matter how old you are.

The earlier your child visits the dentist the better. Like being given Vegemite. Have it by the right age and you’ll love it the rest of your life.

As a sucked rule of thumb, it’s time for the first dental visit when your baby’s first tooth is visible (audible!) or when they turn one, whichever comes first. Of course if you think anything is out of the ordinary before then, your better-to-be-safe-than-sorry hormone will kick in and the appointment will already be booked. Don’t overthink it and not want to seem foolish if it’s nothing: we make idiots of ourselves throughout our lives and it hasn’t killed us yet.

If you like you can indeed find a paediatric dentist – children are their specialty and their clinics are the ultimate in kid-friendly. Rest assured too, that all good dentists have training and experience with children and just because they don’t have Bananas in Pyjamas down the walls doesn’t mean you and your child won’t receive the best treatment professionalism can give you.

Little kids are little kids; they behave like children because they can, there’s no way they can’t, and sometimes things are just too overwhelming and too new. They can’t throw down a scotch or go for a drive so they just combine all that and go a bit crazy.

Relax.

Firstly because you know that kids are like dogs – they pick up on your fear. So if you’re not behaving in a way that alerts your child to something ‘not right’ then they’re going to emotionally react to that.

So get a grip or go for coffee. You choose whichever is best for shorty there, the one heading for the chair for the first time.

Woo hoo to them!!

Secondly, you’re child is in good, well-experienced hands. If you think you have no proof of that, remember how many adults can be more irrational than a little kid, and how many ways that can show up in a clinic.

Dentists are the horse whisperers of the medical field. If your daughter or son isn’t behaving the way you’d like, it’s not a reflection of you and hand over the reins. If they’re not being quiet, so what, it’s normal. The dental team is trained in how to comfort babies and have them as comfortable as possible during the exam.

So get back to relaxing or have some water after that coffee. As a horse whisperer, your dentist will be as gentle as a lamb with your little lamb. Honestly people – these people are people! Granted, it’s very uncomfortable for you; and keep in mind that crying and screaming is not the desired outcome.

At all. For anyone.

The first visit to the dentist is a momentous occasion and a milestone in your life as a parent. Like any of the firsts: first haircut, first steps, first day of school. Make a project of it if that’s your thing, and however it is you want to set up that 21st birthday stunt.

A parent’s responsibility is never-ending. Like a story. Calm yourself about it all by finding out what’s good to ask about your child’s oral health. If it is in fact you who is reticent to go to the dentist, you might want to book yourself appointment as well.

Do as I do …

Let your dentist show your child how to brush their teeth properly. Learn yourself – and don’t think you already know. Help your child maintain that on a daily basis until it becomes automatic for them.

And thank goodness for that.

Your dentist will have age-appropriate discussions with you about many things: teething, brushing techniques, your child’s bite, thumb or finger sucking, decay risk, and nutritional advice.

Take it in and follow it. Your dentist has your child’s optimum oral health at heart – and for most little kids it’s in a fine state already. Keep it that way, let good habits form early and know that you’ve just given the best gift you ever could: setting them up for a lifetime of great oral health.

Note: All content and media on the Elevate Dental Richmond website and social media channels are created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.

 

 

Services we mentioned:

Dental Checkups

General Dentistry

Children's Dentistry

James Wong is a wonderful Dentist. The communication and patience through the procedure was first class.

James B

 

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James Wong is a wonderful Dentist. The communication and patience through the procedure was first class.

James B

 

What a professional and friendly team at Elevate Dental Richmond. Dr Judith’s infectious smile is matched only by her highly competent dentistry.
Richmond is lucky to have such a caring practice! Thanks guys.

Peter O

 

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