Most milk teeth are present in the mouth at the age of two, therefore it would seem that this would be the ideal time for the child’s first dental appointment. However, prevention is better than cure, and visits to the dentist as early as one year of age could be beneficial for both parent and child.
Dental visits in the absence of pain, foster a good relationship between child and dentist, making it a positive experience. A child’s first visit should never be when he or she is in pain. Pain and fear go hand-in-hand, and this is likely to be perpetuated in future visits.
Good habits early on
By taking children for regular dental visits from an early age, parents could be advised on how best to care for their child’s teeth and also eradicate bad habits before they become established.
Care of the primary dentition is often neglected as it is thought that milk teeth are of a temporary nature and are going to fall out anyway. However, proper care of these teeth could prevent the formation of cavities, minimizing the need for invasive treatment such as fillings and extractions.
Primary teeth keep the space for the permanent teeth, therefore preserving them as long as possible is essential to prevent later orthodontic problems. Teeth drift into the spaces left by extractions, resulting in space loss and crowding of teeth. Placing fillings extends the life of the tooth, preserving the space into which the permanent teeth will erupt.
By exposing children to dental visits early in life, a positive attitude towards dental treatment can be established.
(Dr Nadia Mohamed, paediatric dentist)