Did you know that more than 21 percent of all American children between the ages of two and five have cavities? Many people assume that, because very young children have only very few “baby teeth,” a regular dental appointment is unnecessary. This cannot be further from the truth.

Myriad health issues can occur, even in infants. Besides tooth decay and cavities, they can develop other gum or mouth issues, without regular care.

At the same time, it is understandable that parents do not want to schedule their child’s first dentist appointment before it is necessary. The good news is that there are some basic guidelines to let you know when you should first visit a kids’ dentist in Elizabethtown, KY.

This article explains these recommendations. It also provides some tips for making your child’s visit go as smoothly as possible. Keep reading to find out more.

When to Schedule a Child’s First Dentist Appointment

Most people are surprised to learn that most major health organizations in the United States, including the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, recommend taking your child to their first dental checkup no later than their first birthday. In fact, every year you wait until after your child turns one their chances of getting tooth decay nearly double.

The first year of life can be full of stress as well as excitement. It is often filled with other pediatric doctor’s visits, as well as other responsibilities. If you missed the one-year cutoff, do not worry, but schedule their first appointment as soon as possible.

A secondary checkpoint for scheduling your child’s first dentist appointment is within a few months after their first tooth comes in. If this happens before they turn one, go ahead and schedule an appointment.

Wherever it occurs, it is a major event at the start of your child’s dental development. After the initial visit, most dentists recommend visits every six months for routine cleanings and check-ups.

Why Are Early Dentist Visits Important?

Visits to the dentist early in your child’s life allow the doctor to examine their teeth, mouth, and gums. It also lets them address any major issues, like cavities, that may have already developed.

It also helps the dentist impart preventative measures. A hygienist may clean your child’s teeth and apply fluoride to help protect them from decay going forward.

Another benefit of an early dentist visit is that it is an opportunity to educate parents. Dentists can help them put in place good hygiene habits, including brushing, specific to infants. This alone will help prevent many dental problems down the road.

Why Parents Delay Pediatric Dentist Visits

A recent survey asked almost 800 parents of children between zero and five years old when they should first take their child to the dentist. A little more than a third answered correctly (by the age of one).

Almost half said that the child should start going at age two or three. Another 17 percent said four years old was suitable for beginning dental treatment.

It is easy to see how “assuming it is unnecessary” is the main reason that parents do not take their children to the dentist early enough. The next most prevalent reason parents give for delaying is related: that their child’s teeth are healthy. We have already demonstrated why this may not be the case, even in children under one.

The third main reason that parents gave for waiting on dental care is that their child would be afraid or anxious to visit the dentist. This is understandable, but fortunately, there are some things you can do to mitigate this.

Addressing a Child’s Anxiety About Visiting the Dentist

If you are concerned about your child’s anxiety about their first-ever appointment, there are some things you can do. One is scheduling the visit for in the morning, when your child is fresh and not too tired. This can help them better handle some of the emotional toll the visit can take.

The most important thing you can do is go to an Elizabethtown pediatric dentist. This is someone who specializes in making children feel as comfortable as possible during the examination.

Note that this is distinct from a “family dentist,” which is a general term dental offices use to state that they treat children as well as adults. Pediatric dentists have special training in identifying and treating dental conditions specific to children. They also will have a lot of experience treating and caring for children as dental patients, since that is what they specialize in.

Pediatric dental offices often offer an environment conducive to pediatric dental care. This might include overhead video screens, toys, or other tools to keep your child occupied.

More importantly, pediatric dentists doctors, hygienists, and other staff will have knowledge and experience with children to help keep them at ease throughout the visit. All this can translate to ensuring your child is calm and comfortable, while receiving the best dental care possible for their age.

Find a Pediatric Dentist in Elizabethtown, KY

Now that you have some information about dental health in children, you can schedule your child’s first dentist appointment. Like with other forms of medicine, prevention is better than treatment. Do not delay in setting up a visit for your child.

At Elizabethtown Dentistry for Children, our goal is to help children, adolescents, and those with special needs gain optimum oral health through excellent and compassionate dental care. We specialize in pediatric dental care and can help you establish a routine of good dental hygiene for your child. Reach out to us today to learn more or to schedule your Elizabethtown kids’ dentist visit.