How Often Should Kids Go to the Dentist? What to Consider

How Often Should Kids Go to the Dentist?

You are used to taking your child to the pediatrician. You probably are aware of the developmental milestones your child should meet and what to discuss with your child’s doctor. But how often should kids go to the dentist?

You may feel that going to the dentist will be a scary experience for your child. But there is a lot you can do to make visits to the dentist a positive experience for your child.

Why Should You Take Your Child To The Dentist?

Visiting the dentist is an essential part of your child’s overall development. Just like regular visits are important for adults, regular visits will promote good oral health in your child.

Because children’s mouths are constantly changing and growing, a dentist will check teeth, gums, and overall growth. If there are any problems, your dentist can identify them early and discuss them with you.

The smile that your child has also can impact self-esteem later in life. By taking care of your child’s teeth, you can ensure that your child will smile with confidence.

By taking your child to the dentist regularly, you are also forming good habits that can continue into adulthood.

Preparing for the First Visit

Before your first visit, you can prepare your child. Sometimes adults have anxiety around the dentist, so you don’t want to pass your own fears onto your child. 

Instead, you can let your child know that you are going to visit a “tooth doctor.” You can let your child know that the tooth doctor helps make sure that the teeth are strong and healthy.

Depending on your child’s age, you can do other things to prepare, such as:

  • Read books about teeth and going to the dentist
  • Talk about the special tools that the dentist has to check on teeth
  • Help your child understand the importance of healthy teeth

Consider scheduling your visits when your child is well-rested and cooperative. You can also make your dentist aware if your child is anxious, stubborn, or fearful at the start of the visit. Your dentist will put your child at ease and may offer sedation for, especially anxious children.

What To Discuss With Your Child’s Dentist

Remember, visiting the dentist is also your opportunity to discuss your child’s teeth and any concerns you have. In the first and subsequent visits, you may want to ask the following:

  1. Where is my child missing when brushing?
  2. Do you have any tips to encourage better brushing?
  3. Are there any alignment issues?
  4. Will my child need braces?
  5. Does my child have any cavities?
  6. Where are the cavities located?
  7. How can we prevent cavities in the future?
  8. Are there any issues with the gums?

In addition to your questions, your dentist will talk you through any issues that are found. You can talk through what is involved in any recommended treatment.

Good Dental Habits at Home In Between Visits

Teaching your child good habits at home will make each visit to the dentist easier! Taking care of your child’s teeth will reduce the likelihood that cavities will form.

Cavities occur when there is a breakdown in the protective enamel surrounding the tooth, allowing bacteria to enter. The most common reason for the breakdown is a buildup of acid that eats away at the enamel (called plaque). The most common culprit for the acid is sugary foods and beverages.

There are several things that you can do to reduce plaque and prevent tooth decay. Fluoride will also help to strengthen your child’s teeth.

You can do many things to promote good dental health in your child in-between your dental visits. For example:

  • Brushing your child’s teeth twice per day
  • Use fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss in between teeth to remove food that may be stuck
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Drinking water that contains fluoride, such as the tap water

Talk to your child’s dentist and see if he/she can provide any other tips.

How Frequently Should Kids Go To the Dentist?

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, you should take your child to the dentist when the first tooth appears, and no later than the first birthday.

After that, a check-up every six months is recommended to detect issues and to prevent cavities. However, every child is different, and your dentist will talk to you about frequency based on your child’s oral health.

Why Choose a Pediatric Dentist?

You may be wondering: What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist? And why should I choose a pediatric dentist?

A pediatric dentist is the pediatrician of dentistry. A pediatric dentist undergoes specialty training after dental school, and the practice is limited to pediatric patients only.

There are more targeted treatments that impact children that your pediatric dentist can discuss with you. A big one is braces, and whether or not your child will need any alignment correction of his/her teeth.

Another important consideration is sealants. Sealants can prevent cavities by covering the teeth with a thin layer so that food cannot get stuck in small crevices. The application of sealants is quick and can have benefits for many years.

Your pediatric dentist will also be able to evaluate if your child is getting enough fluoride. Since fluoride is critical to dental health, your pediatric dentist could discuss fluoride supplements or treatments if there is a deficiency.

In older children, your pediatric dentist can discuss ways to protect your child’s teeth during sporting events or repair damage if it were to occur.

Because pediatric dentists specialize in treating children, they know how to make the child comfortable. They are also experts in identifying potential issues that a child’s constantly changing mouth. The more regularly kids go to the dentist, the better equipped they are for oral health throughout their lives.

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