Giving your children the proper dental routine is very important. When should kids go to the dentist on a regular basis? This guide covers it all.

Did you know that nearly 50% of children will have at least one cavity by the time they turn five? If you’re a parent, that might be a very scary figure. You probably have questions.

What can you do to keep your child from becoming a part of that statistic? What should you be doing at home to keep your child’s teeth healthy? When should kids go to the dentist?

Don’t look any further. From how to start a good oral health routine to what to look for in a great pediatric dentist, we have all the answers for you right here. Keep reading to learn more about your child’s first dentist visit!

Start at the Very Beginning

Your baby is most likely to get their first tooth between the ages of 6 to 12 months. You can start an oral care routine even before those first teeth come in.

After dipping a soft cloth or gauze in water, wipe your baby’s gums after feedings and at bedtime. This will prevent bacteria from hanging out in your baby’s mouth and damaging incoming teeth. In addition, establishing a dental care routine early will be beneficial, as your child grows and sees oral hygiene as part of the daily schedule.

Once teeth start to come in, you can begin a brushing regimen with a soft-bristled brush, water, and a smear of toothpaste. You can also consider adding fluoride to your child’s diet once they reach 6 months of age.

Fluoride—which can slow or stop cavities from forming—may be found in your tap water. If it’s not, you can get drops or tablets to make sure your child is getting some fluoride each day. As they grow older, toothpaste will become a regular source of fluoride.

Be careful not to overdo the fluoride, though, as too much can damage permanent teeth.

When Should Kids Go to the Dentist?

By now, you may be asking when to schedule your kid’s first dental visit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests taking your child for their first dental visit by their first birthday.

What should you look for in a pediatric dentist? First and foremost, you’ll want someone who can make your child feel comfortable. Your own dentist may work with kids, or you may want to choose a dentist who specializes in pediatric dental care.

The first visit to the dentist will mostly be about getting your child used to the dental chair and educating you about how to best care for your child’s teeth. The dentist is also likely to assess your baby’s teeth, gumline, and jaw to check for any early problems.

There may be discussions about thumb or finger sucking, and how these affect your child’s teeth. Your dentist may remind you about how a healthy diet supports good oral health.

Once your child reaches the age of 2, they should visit the dentist every 6 months.

An Oral Health Routine at Home

As you establish routine visits to the dentist, it’s equally important to establish a good oral hygiene routine at home.

When your kids are small, it can be helpful to make brushing and flossing a family activity. The benefits of this are numerous.

By taking time out to brush and floss with your kids, they are seeing how much you value taking care of your teeth. This is also an opportunity for you to check on your kid’s technique and offer pointers.

Your child should be brushing their teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. Once their teeth are close together, they can add flossing to their routine.

Don’t forget a diet packed with foods that support strong teeth. Foods rich in calcium, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, are good for strong teeth. Foods rich in vitamin C such as citrus fruit, broccoli, and potatoes, promote good gum health. Avoid sugary foods and drinks that can cause cavities.

Make it Fun

It can be difficult to keep your kids on track with their dental care as they grow older, and the task becomes arduous and boring. However, there are many ways you can make the routine exciting and engaging.

Let your kids choose some fun dental supplies. They can pick a toothbrush with their favorite color or their favorite character. You can help them find a flavored toothpaste they love to use. You might even get a fun timer they can set to make sure they’re brushing for two whole minutes.

If you have kids that respond well to a reward system, you can consider a sticker chart. Add a sticker when your child brushes, flosses, or has a great check-up at the dentist. Set a sticker goal and offer a reward (just don’t make the reward candy or chocolate!).

As They Grow Older

When you first start taking your child to the dentist, they may sit in your lap for their exam. As they get older, they will be able to handle the dentist chair all on their own.

From ages 6 to 12, it’s all about prevention and setting your child up for success as their permanent teeth come in. At age 4, your pediatric dentist may start to take x-rays to catch any cavities that may be forming between teeth.

By the time kids reach their 7th birthday, their first molars erupt. At this point, your dentist may suggest your child visit an orthodontist. 

Once molars come in, your child will have a backbite. An orthodontist can examine front-to-back and side-to-side relationships between your child’s teeth. They can pinpoint any potential future dental problems and create a plan to solve those problems.

A Team Effort

It takes all the people in a child’s life to make sure they acquire great dental health habits that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.

As your child’s first teacher, you will have the job of showing them the ropes and encouraging them to keep at it. Choosing a pediatric dentist who cares for your child and their oral health is also a vital step on the path to a bright smile in every school picture.

Is the question, “When should kids go to the dentist” on your mind? Are you in the market for great pediatric dental services in Knoxville, TN? Make an appointment with Knoxville Pediatric Dentistry today!