According to the Australian Dental Association, your child should first see the dentist as soon as a baby tooth becomes visible. Normally this is around 6 to 8 months old.
Once your child reaches 12 months old, regardless of tooth development, you should bring them in for a dental visit. Check-ups are not just about teeth – the dentist looks after your entire oral health. This includes the tongue, gums, lips and the inside of your mouth.
Besides the health benefits of visiting the dentist early, it also helps your child become accustomed to the dentist. Getting them used to the smells and sounds of a dental practice while they are young can start positive experiences early.
If you believe there is anything of concern regarding your child’s oral health, you should book an appointment as soon as possible. It is much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your little one’s health.
What Happens at their First Dental Visit?
Your child’s first visit to dentist will be more about getting them used to the practice and the tools we use, rather than a comprehensive check-up.
Ideally the first visit will help us build a positive association with your child. It is always better for your child’s first visit to be a routine check-up rather than due to a toothache.
The dentist will examine your child’s teeth, gums, tongue, oral tissue and bite. Depending on your child’s age, the dentist may make the visit fun by letting them play on the dental chair and with the instruments.
If needed, the dentist may give the teeth a gentle clean. Don’t worry if your child fusses at the appointment it is completely normal. Our dentists are trained to help make them feel as comfortable as possible during their treatment.
The ideal dental introduction:
First Visit = Focused on fun, playing in the dental chair and with our friendly staff. If they have an older sibling, they can come along to their appointment and see how it all works.
Second Visit = Examination to ensure everything is looking as it should.
Third Visit = Examination with gentle clean.
How to Prepare Your Child for the Dentist
It is a good idea to get your child thinking of the dentist in a positive way. Before an appointment or when talking about the dentist use terms like “the tooth fairies’ friend” or “ride in the dental chair”.
You can play games by dressing up as a dentist to explain a dentist takes care of your teeth. You may also ‘examine’ their mouth to get them used to the idea.
Remember, children are very impressionable and if they sense you are anxious about seeing the dentist, they may follow suit. Our dentists are trained to look after children, and they will do their best to make them feel comfortable. Try to stay positive and this will help make their experience a cheerful one.
Tip: Do not use the dentist as a deterrent for correcting poor behaviour. Likewise, try to avoid using the dentist to scare your child into maintaining a regular oral hygiene routine. For example, “if you don’t brush your teeth the dentist will pull your tooth out!”
Parents at the Dentist
During your child’s visit, the dentist will offer you advice on how to best look after your child’s oral health. They may also offer you some helpful brochures and flyers about oral health for children.
Tip: For eligible children between 2 and 17, there is a program called Child Dental Benefits Schedule which offers $1,000 in basic dental benefits over 2 years.