If you have a baby at home, you might wonder when you should bring him or her to the dentist for the first time. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends taking a child to the dentist by the age of one. While this might seem early to you, there are good reasons you should do this, and here are some of the reasons you should know about.

Visiting the Dentist Helps Children Become Acquainted with the Dentist's Office

The first thing you should realize is that visiting a dentist can be a scary experience for kids, and this is why it is better to start taking your child when he or she is very young. If your child starts visiting a dental clinic at this age, he or she will become more acquainted with the office, and this could reduce or eliminate any fears of the dentist.

It's important to realize that the first few visits to a dentist typically do not involve any dental work, and this is good because dental fears are often associated with dental work. If each of the first few visits to the dentist's office are fun, pleasurable, and pain-free, your child may grow up feeling excited about going to the dentist.

The Dentist Will Evaluate Your Child's Teeth and Risks

While the first visit will not involve dental work, the dentist will try to get a look inside your child's mouth. Because babies are so little, the dentist may simply take a look inside your baby's mouth while you hold your baby. If the dentist cannot get a good look, he or she won't force it. Babies do not always cooperate well, but that is nothing you should worry about. Pediatric dentists are used to working with kids and babies, and they expect difficulties like this.

If the dentist can see inside your baby's mouth, he or she may count the teeth and look for signs of cavities or problems. By the age of one, your baby may have some teeth, but he or she probably will not have cavities yet.

The Dentist Will Give You Tips for Oral Care

One of the most important reasons to visit a dental clinic when your child turns one is so that you can learn good oral care tips, and this is especially important if this is your first child. During this visit, you can ask questions to the dentist about caring for your baby's teeth. The dentist can also offer some good advice to you that could help your child's teeth grow in strong and healthy. Here are some tips the dentist might offer to you:

  • Avoid giving the child juice or other sugary drinks – Sugary or acidic drinks are not good for your baby's teeth. The acids in the drinks can eat away at teeth, and the sugars provide a source of food for bacteria to eat. A baby should never drink anything except water, formula, breastmilk, or regular milk.
  • Do not brush the child's teeth with toothpaste that contains fluoride – Kids are not typically old enough for fluoride toothpaste until they reach the age of three. If kids swallow fluoride, it can harm the teeth by leaving spots on them. This is called dental fluorosis, and you can prevent this by avoiding fluoride toothpaste.
  • Try to break the child of a pacifier – If your child has a pacifier, the dentist may recommend breaking the child of this habit by a certain age, which is usually around the age of two. Sucking on a pacifier too long can damage teeth, and this is why your dentist might ask if your child has a pacifier.

Pediatric dentists work with children each and every day, and they try to offer fun and comfortable environments for kids. If you would like to schedule a one-year visit for your child, contact a pediatric dental clinic, such as Sunnyside Dentistry for Children, in your area.