Dental Care for Kids: How Often Should Your Child Visit The Dentist?
The habits your kids form early in life can set them up for years to come. Dental care for your child is one such habit. You see, a healthy smile and mouth is not just great for your child’s physical health, but also their confidence and mental wellbeing. And a parent, it’s your job to help establish these habits early. How often your child visits the dentist is a huge part of this.
But don’t worry, when it comes to children’s dental care, we’re here to help. Today we’re answering many of the questions parents have about dental health for kids, including:
- How often should children visit the dentist?
- What age do children start going to the dentist?
- What to expect at your child’s appointment
- How to prepare your child for the dentist
- When should your child have their first teeth cleaning?
- What causes tooth decay in children?
- 5 ways your child can care for their teeth between visits
Let’s get started.
How often should children visit the dentist?
It’s best to bring your kids in every 6-12 months for their regular check-ups. These visits may include a scale and clean, and fluoride therapy. This removes plaque and tartar build up that’s not always removed by daily brushing.
Regular check-ups help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, and avoid more serious dental problems down the track. Of course, your dentist will let you know if your child needs to come in more often to get on top of any dental issues that may arise.
What age do children start going to the dentist?
Your child should have their first dental check-up between the ages of 12 and 24 months, or when their first teeth start coming through – whichever comes first. If anything seems out of the ordinary before then, book an appointment and bring them in. We specialise in dental care for kids.
When it’s your child’s health, it’s better to be safe than sorry. And even though their baby teeth will eventually fall out, taking care of those little toothy pegs is vital for growing healthy adult teeth. Prevention is easier than cure.
Plus, bringing your kids to the dentist from a young age can help them get comfortable and dismiss any silly dentist stories they may hear as they get older.
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When should your child have their first teeth cleaning?
Your child’s first dental cleaning should be once most of their baby teeth have come through. This is usually around the toddler years – between 12 and 36 months. Having said that, your child should still be coming in for check-ups from around 12 months or when their first teeth start coming through.
What to expect at your child’s appointment
Have a chat
Feel free to talk to us ahead of time and let us know a bit about your child’s personality. Do they get a bit scared or defiant in new situations? Are there any issues we should know about that may impact the appointment? The more we know, the more we can help to make the experience as positive as possible for you and your child.
Take a ride
Once your child is called in, the dentist will introduce themselves, and ask your child to jump into the chair for a ride. We’ve got a flat-screen television on the ceiling, so your child can lay back and watch their favourite shows to help them feel more at ease. This isn’t the norm for dental clinics, but we like to make visits fun.
Down to business
The dentist will give your child a look at their gloves, mask, and glasses, and ask them how many teeth they have. Then it’s onto the tooth count and examining their jaw, gums, and bite. Much like an adult appointment, the dentist will use specialised instruments to clean away any plaque or tartar that’s built up on your child’s teeth.
The dentist will demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques, and discuss common children’s dental problems such as decay, grinding, and teeth alignment with you and your child. Feel free to ask any questions you may have.
- Fix damaged teeth from trauma or decay
- Extract teeth
- Treat gum conditions
- Make customised mouth guards for sport
A dental record is created and some photos may be taken to help with comparisons and explanations. A treatment and management plan will be put together to treat any issues and keep your child’s teeth and mouth nice and healthy.
A trip to the dentist is a big deal for kids. So at the end of your appointment, we reward your child with a goodie bag to keep their smile bright and healthy.
- New toothbrush
- Toy (tooth timer, toothbrush holder etc)
Child Dental Benefits Scheme Eligibility
Don’t forget, as part of the Child Dental Benefits Scheme (CDBS), you could be eligible for up to $1,000 in basic dental services! Find out more…
How to prepare your child for the dentist
Going to the dentist can be a little scary for kids. Here are some tips you can use to help your little ones feel more at ease.
Role playing at home is a great way to help your child feel more at ease for their appointment. You can take turns being the dentist or patient. It’s fun to act out the whole thing, first coming into the waiting room, then calling in the patient. Get your child to lie back on the couch with their mouth open while you count their teeth, then take a rare opportunity to lie down yourself while your teeth are counted by “the dentist”. (We parents take what rest we can get, eh?)
If your child doesn’t quite know what’s going on, show them with the help of some dentist-friendly media. “Peppa Pig” and “Daniel Tiger” have some great episodes about a child’s first visit to the dentist. There are also many wonderful books and online resources available.
Come say hello
If your child is feeling nervous, you can always bring them in for a visit before your appointment. Our staff are friendly, and we have a range of children’s books in our reception area to help introduce your child to the idea of “the dentist”. Also, it’s important to not let a past negative experience of your own impact your child’s feelings around going to the dentist. We’re all about creating positive experiences.
What causes tooth decay in children?
Tooth decay/cavities are one of the most common children’s dental care issues. Studies show that 42% of children aged between 2 and 11 have had dental cavities in their primary (baby) teeth.
Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in the mouth that becomes plaque. This sticky substance can break down tooth enamel leading to holes in the teeth called cavities. A dentist can diagnose tooth decay/cavities in your children with an examination and X-rays. Tooth decay/cavities in children can be treated by removing the decayed part of the tooth and replacing it with a filling.
Is your child at risk of tooth decay?
All children have bacteria in their mouth. But there are factors that can increase your child’s risk of tooth decay such as:
- A diet high in starches and sugars
- Frequent snacking
- Drinking from a water supply with limited or no fluoride
- Poor oral hygiene
- Limited saliva flow
5 signs your child should visit a kid-friendly dentist:
It’s time to book a dental appointment if your child is experiencing any of the following:
- Teeth and gum sensitivity to food and drink
- Bad breath
- White, brown or black stains on the tooth’s surface
- Bleeding gums
Oral hygiene for babies
Even if your child’s teeth haven’t popped through yet, you can still clear away harmful bacteria by gently running a clean, damp washer or gauze over their gums and tongue. Warm water works best.
5 ways your child can care for their teeth between visits
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – prevention is easier than cure. So let’s get down to some tips for how your child can keep their smile healthy between dental visits.
1. Brush teeth twice a day
Brush after breakfast and before bedtime. Always use soft bristles. It’s also a good idea for your kids to give their teeth a clean after any sugary/sticky food to help reduce the risk of plaque. For kids under three, use a small amount of toothpaste – the size of a grain of rice. From three, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. A gentler alternative is toddler toothpaste.
2. Brush ALL teeth
Not just the front ones… Spend some time showing and making sure your kids are brushing the back and sides of their teeth, too. While they’re learning, it’s good to give your kid’s teeth a second brush yourself. The toddler brushing teeth struggle is real! So, just say you’re “having a look to see how great they did.” Your dentist can also show them the best way to brush without hurting or damaging their gums.
3. Floss regularly
Your kids can floss from the age of two. Make it a daily habit. If they’re struggling a bit, get them to lay back on the couch in your lap, and open up their mouth to get to those hard-to-reach molars.
4. Eat well
Feed your kids a well-balanced diet. Limit their intake of sticky and sugary foods like chips, cookies, cake, and lollies. If the kids want a snack, try carrots, celery or apples. It’s a much healthier alternative, and the munching stimulates saliva flow for better oral health. (It can also help them calm down.)
5. Don’t share utensils
Bacteria can move from mouth to mouth from sharing spoons and forks etc, so don’t share eating utensils with your kids. It’s also a good idea not to clean your baby’s/toddler’s dummy with your saliva.
Being a parent, you’ve got a million things to do every day. Your kid’s dental care is in there somewhere, but can be easily overlooked. Nonetheless, it’s a pretty important habit that can help your child’s development for years to come. The first step is booking an appointment.
If you’re in Brisbane’s inner-south, bring the kids in to say hi.
Our family-owned, kid-friendly dental practice is conveniently nestled in the Camp Hill Marketplace shopping centre.
Book your kid’s dental appointment today or call (07) 3152 7622