Top 5 reasons why your ONE year old needs to see a dentist
A post in my favorite mommy group recently asked when the best time to to start going to the pediatric dentist. Here were some of the responses:
"I brush teeth every day, and we don't eat candy. We don't have any problems, so why do we need to see a dentist so young?"
"He hardly has any teeth, it's all a scam to charge dental insurance."
"My Pediatrician told me that we don't need to bring my child to the dentist until 3 years old."
While all these are valid points, I couldn't help but see things through a different lens based on my experiences in the office where had their children come earlier- we could have had better outcomes. Here are my top 5 reasons why seeing a dentist EARLIER than 3 years old is better!
Top 5 reasons your ONE year old should go to the dentist
5. Establish a Dental Home
Having a dental home means knowing who to call when there are concerns, pain, or if your child takes a small tumble/ has trauma to the teeth or face- which is pretty common as they are starting to walk and crawl.
4. Learn about good and bad dental habits.
As great as crowd-sourcing on facebook is (I too have used this method to get quick answers for a pressing question at 3 AM) you can ask a professional all those questions, such as:
when to start brushing,
how long can baby have a bottle,
what kind of toothpaste to use,
what kind of foods are tooth-friendly,
what type of candy is better to eat,
do we need to floss,
when can we continue pacifier/ sippy cup use... the list goes on and on..
.... and get evidence based answers instead of "google-expert" opinions.
3. Make sure we hit dental developmental milestones
Your dentist will check for things such the correct number of teeth, tooth positioning, tongue tie/ lip tie concerns, and bite development as they are growing.
2. Know early signs of cavities before they become unmanageable
What are those white/ yellow/ brown spots on the teeth?
Oftentimes parents come to the office when the teeth are badly decayed or there is pain- which is already at the advanced stage where more invasive treatment will be necessary. By starting checkups early, parents can be EMPOWERED with the knowledge of what's going on in their child's mouth and prevent progression of cavities early on.
1. Get fear OUT of the equation and build confidence in your child!
The most important aspect is creating a comfortable relationship with the dentist, so that if your child ever needs treatment in the future, their first experience won't be a "traumatic" one. I see this many times with school age children in the office.
There is a huge difference in the behavior of children who have been coming every 6 months since they were 1 years old vs those whose first experience is at 4 years old and they are coming because of a toothache.
The 4 year old is already hurt, and now needs to learn how to take an x-ray, and sit uncomfortably in the chair while being examined. He also may have heard from friends or siblings how "scary" the dentist is. No matter how fun the office looks with T.V. screens, toy box and shining lights, its still a NEW experience and can be quite fear-inducing.
On the other hand, the child who has been coming since 1 years old is in familiar territory! He sees the friendly dentist, the x-ray machine he has used before, and is confident he knows how his experience at the dentist will go, rather than relying on stories from friends or videos on youtube. He sees your trust in the dentist and this makes him trust the dentist as well, which creates more positive behavior and a good experience for parent and child!
And one more reason to go to the dentist by 1 years old?
You can finally chime in on those mommy group posts... you know the weekly ones that ask "In search of a great pediatric dentist in our area...."