We often have parents ask, “At what age should my child start seeing a dentist?” My first response is always, “Every child is different, but it’s good to start introducing them to the dental office at an early age.” Whether it’s bringing your child in to watch an older sibling who is comfortable in the dental chair or to come in with mom or dad and watch, earlier is better.
Pediatricians are often recommending that parents bring in their child as soon as the first tooth erupts.
For some babies, this can be as early as three months. While we would surely see the child, it’s unlikely that we would do any cleaning. What we would do is talk about the importance of good oral hygiene, diet and discuss how best to take care of the child’s teeth.
In my experience, most children will allow us to look into their mouths at around age 2.
Some will let us polish, use suction and water with no issue. Sometimes a chair ride is all we can accomplish, and for others, we are not able to accomplish even that due to anxiety. We often have to bring the child in numerous times before we can do an exam.
We’ve seen instances where children have not had dental care until after age 5. With the delay, the child may develop unnecessary fears. They older the child, the apt they are to start analyzing what could happen and often have been exposed to others’ negative experiences whether it’s from children at school or a family member.
As parents, we always want our children to succeed, be courageous and outgoing. Having our children cooperate and have successful dental visits is always what we hope for, but it is best not to set high expectations especially for younger children. Our goal as dental professionals is to have a positive experience regardless of whether or not we accomplish all we set out to do. Keeping it only positive carries through, hopefully, a lifetime of great experiences in the dental world!
It’s fun to watch these little ones grow, lose teeth and grow into their adult selves. We’d love to see your child in our office and help develop a healthy relationship with the dental office. It truly is a fun experience for a lot of children– keeping it happy, learning about a healthy mouth, a bag of goodies to take home AND a treasure box! Fun!
Kim is registered dental hygienist currently working at Seasons of Smiles in Camden, Maine. She graduated from University College in Bangor. She also holds an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration through the University of Southern Maine.