Starting to visit the dentist as early as possible will give your children the best chance of enjoying life-long oral health.
Only one in 10 children under the age of two in England have been for their first dental check up and around 140* children a day have decayed teeth removed. Starting the habit of good dental routines early on can help prevent these issues later. Experts recommend you aim for your child to have their first visit to the dentist before or around the time of their first birthday.
As well as forming good habits, starting them at a young age means your dentist can:
Ensure their teeth are developing properly and their smile is healthy
Discuss teething, dummies and finger sucking habits.
Build a rapport with the child for future visits
At Kelvin House Dental Practice we provide a full range of NHS preventive services for children, including dietary advice, oral hygiene instruction, fluoride application and fissure sealants.
Often their first visit to the dentist is less about the examination and more about the experience. Your dentist may simply sit them in the chair and show them how it moves. They may do a quick oral examination, showing them the tools they use, then reward them with a sticker. This helps them understand there’s nothing to worry about and sets the tone for future visits.
Early signs: It’s not all about decay. Your dentist could spot other potential issues with how their teeth are developing and take action to fix problems early on.
Help avoid issues: removing decayed teeth in children under five may require general anaesthetic, which can be traumatic for both child and parents.
Good habits: Normalising visits to the dentist from a young age will help create good habits and means they’re more likely to have healthier teeth as they grow up.
The NHS provides free dental treatment for all children up to the age of 18, or under 19 if they’re in full time education.
*NHS England 2018 data
Try to pick a ‘good’ time of day – when they’re less likely to be tired or hungry. They’ll be able to cope far better emotionally with the experience.
Try not to pass your own anxieties onto them. Show them there’s nothing to fear. Let them see you, or an older sibling being examined first.
Give them an idea of what to expect before you go – explain why it’s important and make them excited about the visit. Tell them about the stickers.
Bring along their favourite soft toy so the dentist can use it to show them how they examine their mouth