When should I start taking my son to the dentist? He’s 15 months old now, and I really hope to avoid all the cavities that I had growing up.
Cavities are common and treatable, but, more importantly, they’re preventable. It’s never too early to start thinking about prevention and a trip to the dentist is a great way to start a program of dental health.
Learning the benefits of taking care of your teeth helps motivate many parents to practice good habits. And children learn from example. When they see their parents brushing and flossing, they’ll want to imitate them. Taking kids to the dentist at a young age can also help avoid fear down the road.
A child’s first trip to the dentist should be around his or her first birthday, or six months after the first tooth appears. However, taking care of the mouth should begin at birth. The gums can be gently cleaned with a moist soft cloth, and kids need their own toothbrushes as soon as they have teeth. The teeth should be brushed at least twice a day, after breakfast and before bed. This is best done by the parents until the child is old enough to properly brush their teeth, usually around age 8.
Many people wonder why it’s important to take care of baby teeth, since they’re temporary and replaced by permanent teeth. Baby teeth help a child eat and speak properly. They maintain the space for the permanent teeth, and they also help a child have a good self-image. Losing a baby tooth early can lead to serious problems in the permanent teeth.
It’s also a good idea to avoid caramels, licorice, raisins, and gummy bears. These taste great but they’re sticky and the concentrated sugar stays on the teeth much longer than other types of sugar. And sugar and teeth don’t mix — it increases the risk of cavities.
Ask your pediatrician for a referral to a pediatric dentist or a general dentist who treats children. Choose someone that you and your child feel comfortable with.