As busy moms, we’re bombarded with advice and instructions on when to take our children to the doctor — two weeks old, one month old, three months old, etc. It seems as if much of our time during that first year of life is spent making sure our children hit age-appropriate milestones.
While all of those appointments in such a short time can feel a bit overwhelming, regularly seeing trusted healthcare professionals brings us a peace of mind that our children are healthy. Family dentists are a part of our supportive team helping us through those ever-changing stages of childhood. Even though it takes time, it’s crucial to prioritize preventative and routine appointments with these trusted professionals.
When family life is full, it’s especially easy to put off dental appointments for your children.
- Maybe your old dentist just retired and you haven’t had the energy to find a new one;
- Maybe you have a dentist, but your child had a bad experience and doesn’t want to go back; or
- Maybe you’ve just moved to a new town and there are many other decisions to make.
No to worry, busy mom. We’ve all been there.
With recent research estimating that adults make around 35,000 decisions every day, it’s no wonder some get lost in the shuffle of backpacks, playdates, and homework.
To help you pick up the phone and schedule your child’s next dental appointment, here’s a crash course in childhood dental milestones—signaling that it’s time for a check-up on the family calendar.
Infant and Toddler Years: Teeth Eruption and Good Habits
According to the American Dental Association, your child’s first visit to the dentist should happen after you see those first teeth erupt but no later than your child’s first birthday. Because your child can get cavities as soon as he or she has teeth, early visits to the dentist lay a solid foundation for excellent oral health and a good relationship with their dentist.
A few tips for that first appointment:
- Choose a dentist that has experience with pediatric dentistry. Asking friends and neighbors for recommendations is a great way to locate a high-quality dentist for your child.
- When calling, ask how long average wait times are because choosing a practice with short wait times makes the visit easier on you and your kids.
- Avoid scheduling the appointment during your child’s nap time. The first appointment of the day is often the easiest for young patients.
It’s also important during the toddler years to monitor your child’s brushing, thumb sucking, and sugar intake. Taking care of these baby teeth and teaching good brushing habits will help protect your child’s teeth until the next dental milestone—teeth mobility, also known as wiggly teeth.
Elementary Years: Wiggly Teeth
Once your child has several years of routine dental visits behind them, the next dental milestone often occurs around six years of age. Many children lose their teeth in roughly the order they came in—with the front teeth coming out first.
In order to minimize the pain and bleeding sometimes associated with losing teeth, allow your child to guide how and when the teeth come out. Often, simply letting them wiggle the tooth naturally over the course of several days or weeks allows the tooth to come out virtually pain-free.
Your dentist will want to see you after your child starts losing teeth in order to monitor the new teeth coming in or take note of any crowding or potential challenges.
Teen Years: Orthodontic Needs
The teen years usher in the final stage of dental milestones for children. With a foundation of strong and healthy teeth, many dentists will begin talking about orthodontics. This is a branch of dentistry that focuses on straightening teeth and correcting bite issues using braces and aligners.
Because orthodontics can be pricey, it’s important to talk early on in the teen years with your dentist about necessary procedures. Researching your dental insurance coverage is also important. Many dental offices have administrative professionals on staff to help you navigate these often-confusing issues.
Knowing the basic dental milestones during childhood can help you prioritize dental appointments and make sure that your children receive the best of dental care. While the family calendar may stay full, the peace of mind you’ll have is worth the phone call—and the effort.
For more information about our patient-first vision of complete dental care, contact Simply Beautiful Smiles. The entire team looks forward to welcoming you to our practice and serving the dental needs of you and your family for years to come.