While it is important for your child to receive regular dental care, taking him or her to the dentist at too young of an age can be problematic. Small children are often unable to understand what is going on and the experience can be very traumatic to them. In addition to causing problems in the short term, taking them at too young of an age can leave deep emotional issues that could harm him or her later on in life. You don’t want to have a child who grows up fearing the dentist because he or she was forced to have his or her teeth cleaned at too young of an age.
When do you need to begin cleaning a child’s teeth?
Ideally, you should try to have your child’s teeth cleaned on a regular basis from the time that he or she gets them. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s suggestion is that a child go to the dentist for the first time no later than six months after the first tooth comes in.
Making your child comfortable
To assist in making the first visit less traumatic, you may want to consider bringing your child with you to the dentist when you are getting your own teeth cleaned. Let him or her watch the procedure so that he or she knows there is nothing to be afraid of. You can have the dentist play a short game, like sitting the child in the chair and counting his or her teeth. The idea is for the child to have positive feelings when he or she thinks of the dentist’s office.
Talk with the dentist before you come and together come up with a plan for what you may do if your child is being fearful or otherwise uncooperative. Also, talk with your child and explain to him or her why it is important to go to the dentist and what, exactly, is going to happen. This will help reduce the child’s anxiety and make the visit a more pleasant one for all parties involved.