Although milk teeth are going to be replaced by a set of permanent teeth anyway, good oral health habits go a long way in giving your child a bright and confident smile. When a child’s teeth begin to break through the gums, he is experiencing teething. Teething usually occurs when the child is six months old, but some may begin as early as 3 months old. By the time your child is three years old, he or she should have all 20 primary teeth. It is recommended that children visit the dentist by the first year of age to ensure that their teeth are growing well.
Primary teeth, although temporary, are important as your child would need them to eat, talk and function up till the age of 12. Having a set of rotten or bad milk teeth will also affect the condition of growth for the permanent teeth. Most importantly, bad oral hygiene will lead to toothaches and pains for your child. Visiting the dentist early would also mean that cavities and oral health issues can be spotted and treated before it’s too late.
It will also help parents to learn about the condition of the child’s growth and the steps they should take to cultivate good oral habits and practices for their child. However, stepping into a dental clinic could be a nightmare for the child (and parents).
Here are steps you can take to prepare your child for their first dental visit:
Prepare your child so that he or she knows what to expect from the visit. Assure your child by associating the appointment with positive words. Set an example by keeping good oral healthcare. You can encourage your kids by showing them how to brush and floss your teeth properly. You can say things like, “let’s show the dentist that we have been brushing our teeth well”. Assure your child that you will be there throughout the dental check-up Most children are afraid of visiting the dentist because they feel insecure. You could alleviate some of these fears by offering your presence throughout the check-up.
If there is a favourite toy or pillow that helps your child with a sense of security, allow him or her to bring it along for the visit. Offer a treat or a reward Although you should not use a treat or a reward to bribe your child into seeing the dentist, you can offer a treat or a reward as a way of congratulating or complimenting your child for his or her bravery on the first visit. By doing so, you also help the child to remember and associate dental visits with sweets and good memories instead.
Don’t pass on your own experiences and fears about dental visits. Not only children, some parents themselves are often fearful of going to the dentist. While talking to your child about what to expect at the dentist, avoid using negative terms such as “needles”, “loud sounds”, “poke” and etc. Avoid using dental visits as a threat or punishment for your child as it could lead to further fears and anxieties about dental appointments. Early and preventive oral healthcare should go a long way in helping your child to cultivate good habits for a good, healthy set of teeth.
More info on paediatric dentistry can be found here.