Is It Safe for a 3-Year-Old to Visit the Dentist? Everything You Need to Know
Did you know that tooth decay is the most common disease in children? Tooth decay is a common chronic disease in children which if left untreated, can cause pain and infection that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, learning, and playing. Studies have shown that children who have poor oral health often miss school and perform poorly in school due to absence because of toothache or infection, compared to those who don’t. However, the good news is that tooth decay is entirely preventable!
Good oral habits aren’t only essential for adults but also for children. Instilling healthy oral habits in children from a young age goes a long way. However, new parents are often uncertain about how to take care of their children’s teeth. They know that brushing is important but have questions regarding when to begin. This article will highlight the importance of visiting the dentist at an early age, what to expect during your child’s first dental visit and the importance of regular dental check-ups.
Dental care at an early age
A child’s first set of teeth appears at 6 months of age and continues to erupt till the child is a young adult. Adequate dental care becomes essential as soon as the first set of teeth erupts. It is recommended to clean your infant’s teeth with a warm washcloth or bib to remove sugar and residue from their tongue and gums. This will help prevent early childhood tooth decay. The absence of good oral hygiene can lead to infection and damage to the first set of a child’s teeth. What’s more, this can also cause damage to the underlying adult teeth.
Children are susceptible to tooth decay when the first set of teeth erupt. Acids can develop when liquids and foods that contain natural or artificial sugars interact with bacteria in the mouth. Once the acids mingle with the bacteria, they attack the outer layer of the teeth which results in tooth decay over time.
Can a 3-year-old go to the dentist?
A common question that new parents often ask is, “is it safe for a 3-year-old to visit the dentist?” According to the American Association of Pediatric Dentists, children should go in for their first dental checkup when their first baby teeth begin to emerge or around the time of their first birthday. Though a 1-year-old going to the dentist may seem a bit early, it is important to ensure that your child does not have any signs of tooth decay or gum problems and that their teeth are erupting and developing properly. Baby teeth erupt as early as six months so make sure the dental appointment is not too far behind!
Often children go in for their first appointments when they’re three or four years old with cavities and tooth decay. These cavities could have been prevented with a routine checkup – why it’s important to start them young? It is recommended to take your child to the dentist within 6 months of the first tooth erupting or by 12 months at the latest. At this stage, the dentist will be able to give you information on:
• Mouth cleaning
• Feeding practices
• Baby bottle tooth decay
• Pacifier and finger-sucking habits
At what age should children start going to the dentist?
When should children start going to the dentist is a great question that we hear frequently at The Dental Clinic. It’s normal for new parents to be concerned about their child’s oral health and the internet may have a ton of information that can be quite overwhelming. Fortunately, we have the answers to all your questions!
It is important to maintain a toddler’s oral health, therefore, it is recommended that they see a pediatric dentist every 6 months from the age of 19 months. First visits to the dentist are generally about getting children familiar with the dentist and educating parents on how they should take care of their children’s teeth. Establishing proper habits will prevent cavities and help in keeping your child pain-free. During these visits, the parents can ask questions regarding any concerns they have about their child’s health. If your child has transitioned from a bottle to a cup and does not snack or drink in the middle of the night, you can delay visiting the dentist for another year. However, when the child turns 2, a visit to the dentist is warranted every six months.
Studies have shown that the application of fluoride every 6 months is also a great way of reducing the incidence of cavities by 75%. During these visits, dental exams and cleanings are kept to a minimum. However, a thorough exam that usually doesn’t last more than a minute is done, followed by the application of fluoride to prevent tooth decay. Your dentist will recommend the first set of X-rays between the ages of 4 and 6 years to check for any cavities between the teeth. Whereas prevention is the key between the ages of 6 and 12. This is when the baby teeth give way to the permanent teeth.
Also, when the child is around 7 years old, the dentist will likely suggest an orthodontic evaluation. While most children wait until their teens to get braces, orthodontic treatment revolves around modifying jaw growth, thus identifying the problem early helps ensure a beautiful smile. However, at the end of the day, brushing twice a day, flossing, and getting regular dental checkups are the best way to ensure that your child has a healthy smile.
Preparing your child for their first dental visit
Your child’s first dental appointment can come with some anxiety. We’ve put together several tips to help calm your and your child’s nerves and prepare them for their first dental visit.
Choose the right pediatric dentist!
While you may think that it is easier to take your child to your family dentist, going to one who specializes in pediatric dentistry may actually be a better fit. Pediatric dentists complete speciality training and are trained to treat children and have a thorough understanding of their dental needs. They know how to best work with infants, children, adolescents, and children with special needs.
Most pediatric dentists focus on providing a fun environment for the children with a staff that enjoys working with children. When children gain trust in the dentist and staff, they will enjoy their first visit and look forward to their next appointment.
Where to find a dentist?
You can google nearby pediatric dentists to find a pediatric dentist in your area. You can also talk to other parents, your child’s paediatrician, or your own dentist for recommendations. Once you have scheduled an appointment with the best pediatric dentist, consider touring their office in advance. This will help in preparing the child for the dentist and let them get familiar with the sight and sounds. At The Dental Clinic, we encourage parents to swing by with their children before the first visit.
Tell your child about their first dental visit
Studies have shown that parents can pass on their dental anxiety to their children. So, even if you’re an anxious patient at the dentist’s, don’t let it show in front of your child. If your child is afraid of going to the dentist, they are probably feeling anxious about their first visit. Let them know that it’s completely normal to be nervous about their first visit to the dentist. Tell them about their visit to the dentist and keep it simple! Tell them that the dentist will make sure that their teeth are healthy.
Role-play with them
Role-playing will also help your child feel at ease when at the dentist. Take some time out before their appointment and act out what will happen at the dentist. You can pretend to be the dentist, count their teeth, and brush them. Talk them through what you’re doing and why oral hygiene is so important. You can also swap roles or let your child have a turn being the dentist with a stuffed animal.
Watch videos about going to the dentist
There are tons of videos online that will help prepare your child for a visit to the dentist. When children watch videos of their favorite characters visiting the dentist, it will help put a positive spin on it. Watching videos will also help them get an idea of what’s going to happen at the dentist, and it won’t seem as scary.
Preparing as a parent
Come on time and if possible, a few minutes earlier to fill out any consent forms that may be needed. Give your dentist a complete history of your child including any medications that your child is on with the dosages. If you have any questions that you want the dentist to address, write them down so you don’t forget to ask them during the appointment.
It is very important to have reasonable expectations with your child during their first visit to the dentist. Some children may open their mouths right away and enjoy the experience. Whereas some will not. However, staying put on a regular schedule, typically every six months will make the visits easier and more enjoyable. Many children start off as anxious patients but soon become patients who love going to the dentist once they’ve visited a few times.
Choosing the right dentist for your child
When findings a pediatric dentist for your child it is important to know the difference between a pediatric and a family dentist. Family dentists are general dentists who care for patients of all ages and not just children. On the other hand, pediatric dentists undergo specialized training to work exclusively with children. You can do a quick google search to find a pediatric dentist near you.
Take a look at online reviews
Once you’ve listed down a few nearby pediatric dentists, we recommend checking online reviews for each one. Online reviews are generally a great way to get an idea of what you should be expecting from the dentist. Reviews provide you with a lot of valuable information regarding a dentist’s services and how well they are with children.
Schedule a consultation
Pediatric dentists are happy to schedule consultations for you and your children to meet the dentist. You can visit their office and learn more about what they do. During a consultation, no dental work will be done, and it will be an opportunity for you to visit the office, talk to the dentist and staff and learn about the practice.
You can also judge how child-friendly the practice is. A good pediatric dental office will cater to children with a relaxed atmosphere, toys, and books so they’re calm during and after their appointment. Once you’re satisfied with the dental practice, you can schedule an appointment for your child’s teeth to be examined and cleaned. The pediatric dentist will provide you with all the information you need to keep your child’s mouth strong and healthy. A good pediatric dentist will make the visit fun and stress-free for both you and your child!
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children should have their first dental appointment no later than their first birthday. Early appointments are a great way to ensure that your child’s smile is healthy and that their overall health is on track. Another benefit of taking children to the dentist early is that it will make future visits more comfortable and easier! Going to the dentist can be overwhelming for both children and adults alike! For children, a lot more. But you can help calm their nerves by following a few simple steps to ensure that their first visit to the dentist goes smoothly.
Need a pediatric dentist in the Gulshan-e-Iqbal area, Karachi? Schedule an appointment today!
At The Dental Clinic, we treat children of all ages with gentle and informative care. We have the best pediatric dentist in our team who is certified to provide the treatment with your child needs. We are equipped with state-of-the-art amenities and dental technologies at the clinic. Our approach focuses on giving every child an excellent experience every time they visit. At the end of the visit, the pediatric dentist will ensure that your child leaves with a smile! To get started, schedule an appointment, just contact us at 03312048149 or drop by our clinic, Room # 3 & 4, 2nd Floor, Taj Clinics, C-15/1 Block 3 Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi, 75300