I have lost count of the number of times I have been asked this question....' when should I start bringing my child to a dentist?'
Most people imagine that if and when the child has trouble with his/her teeth - that is when you go see a dentist. In short - they apply the strategy they follow to their child.
I would like to ask a very simple question - " When do you take your child for his/her very first medical check up?"
'Do you wait for them to fall sick? Or do you visit the doctor soon after the child is born - monthly - sometimes even weekly? Do you not make sure the child gets his/her shots regularly and properly?'
So then why the stepmotherly treatment with regard to the child's teeth?
Your child's first dental visit should coincide with the eruption of the very first milk tooth or deciduous tooth.
There are several advantages of visiting the dentist so early -:
- You can learn how to take care of the child's oral hygiene early on.
- Abnormalities and malformations of teeth/jaws can be detected early.
- Eruption timings of teeth differ and at times may be abnormal. This can be detected early.
- Most importantly - if you wait till your child has a problem then his first dental visit may involve a procedure that is uncomfortable. This will determine the way he views dentists all his life, which would involve him further avoiding dentists and treatment. If regularly check ups begin early - the child begins to believe that not all trips to the dentist involve procedures/treatment. He begins to adopt a better attitude which will serve him well later on.
- Also not all parents are good at detecting problems with their child's teeth. It is not their fault really. They are not dentists. So if you wait until there is frank pain - sometimes its too late to save the tooth. If you visit the dentist regularly - early lesions can be caught out before they progress.
- There is a lot of preventive treatment that can be done to prevent cavities.
- Nursing caries/baby bottle tooth decay must be detected and corrected early.
Have you noticed how children co-operate better with Doctors rather than dentists? Even though doctors give injections ( which may be painful) too? It is simply because the doctor is far more familiar to the child. This familiarity is the result of lots and lots of friendly check ups and visits over the years right from birth.