Baby and Toddler First Dental Visit
When Should my Child Go to The Dentist?
Kids should start seeing a children’s dentist regularly around their first birthday or within six months of getting their first tooth. These early visits help identify tooth development issues, prevent decay, and establish good oral hygiene habits. After the first visit, regular checkups every six months are recommended, with some children needing more frequent visits based on their dental health. Encouraging proper oral hygiene practices at home, including brushing, flossing, and limiting sugary foods, is also important. Prioritising early dental care sets the foundation for lifelong dental health.
Why Should My Child Go to the Dentist Early?
Teeth are susceptible to decay and cavities as soon as they emerge in the mouth. By seeking early dental care from a children’s dentist, a Dental Home can be established, along with a lifelong prevention program aimed at minimising tooth decay and other dental diseases. It is always better to prioritise prevention over treatment.
“The dental home is the ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient, inclusive of all aspects of oral health care delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated, and family-centred way. The dental home should be established no later than 12 months of age to help children and their families institute a lifetime of good oral health. A dental home addresses anticipatory guidance and preventive, acute, and comprehensive oral health care and includes referral to dental specialists when appropriate.”
Introducing your child to a preventive programme at an early stage significantly reduces their chances of developing cavities, which can impact their daily activities, such as school, play, and eating, as well as their overall development. By taking your child to the children’s dentist before they experience dental pain, you can help them avoid associating the dentist with discomfort. This approach allows them to perceive regular dental visits as an essential aspect of self-care, fostering a positive attitude towards dental care throughout their lives.
What to Expect at the First Dental Visit
- Sitting arrangements: Children may sit on their own or on their parent’s lap during the first visit to a paediatric dentistry clinic in Singapore, depending on their comfort level and age.
- Crying may happen: It’s common for children to cry during their first dental visit due to the unfamiliar experience. Dentists use techniques like “tell-show-do” to make children comfortable with the instruments and engage them in a positive way.
- Child-centred approach: Our dentists tailor the visit to your child’s comfort level and may start with a simple examination. If ready, the dentist will check for decay, examine the bite, and consider low dose x-rays if necessary.
- Cleaning and preventive measures: Once your child is comfortable, a scale and polish may be performed to remove plaque and tartar, and a fluoride varnish may be applied to prevent decay.
- Personalised advice and treatment plan: The children’s dentist will consider your child’s unique needs, habits, and medical history to provide personalised guidance and collaborate with you to promote good dental and overall health. Feel free to discuss any concerns or questions you have about your child’s oral health.
Topics our dentist may discuss with you include:
- Good oral hygiene practices
- Nutrition habits
- Dental cavity prevention
- Non-nutritive sucking habits (e.g., thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, lip sucking)
- Tooth and Jaw Development
At the end of the session, our dentist will suggest an appropriate follow-up schedule based on your child’s dental condition and overall risk of developing dental problems. Typically, children with healthy teeth should continue with check-ups every 6 months, although some may require more frequent visits.
Continuing to positively reinforce your child’s dental visits is crucial. Remind them of the positive aspects and offer specific praise for their cooperation during the appointment, such as acknowledging their effort in opening wide for the dentist to count their teeth. This practice, known as positive reinforcement, helps encourage good behaviour for future visits.
It’s also important to be mindful of your own body language and words to prevent inadvertently transmitting any dental anxiety or phobia to your child. Creating a calm and positive environment around dental care can contribute to your child’s comfort and ease during future visits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Positively encourage your child about the visit, reinforce good behaviour by praising specific actions, and avoid passing on any dental anxiety through your own body language and words.
It is common for children to cry due to the unfamiliar experience. Dentists are trained to handle children and use techniques like “tell-show-do” to make them comfortable. With regular visits, children become more familiar and comfortable with the dental setting.
Encourage regular brushing and flossing, limit sugary foods and drinks, and follow the dentist’s personalised advice for your child’s oral health.
Dental X-rays are generally safe for children when proper precautions are taken. Paediatric dentists in Singapore follow strict guidelines and use low-dose radiation techniques to minimise any potential risks. X-rays are only taken when necessary to assess dental health and development.