Blake Cameron, DDS, Aspen Dental of Cache Valley 

Few things in life bring as much excitement and as many questions as welcoming a new child into your home. If you have kids, you can relate to both the excitement and questions that come with taking care of a child. We’re always thrilled to celebrate those milestones with our patients, and we’re also ready to answer questions parents have.

One of the first questions dentists usually get is, “When should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?” We like to call those “happy visits.” At least, we hope they’re happy. Typically, we encourage parents, especially first-time parents, to bring their child in when he or she gets their first tooth. Children have lots of visits to doctors at the beginning of their lives, and most of those get associated with being poked, so we try to familiarize children with the dental office in a non-threatening way. We have parents come and sit knee-to-knee with us, and lay their little one in our lap so we can take a look at the new tooth. Assuming all looks normal, that is it! Then we can discuss home care and answer any questions parents may have. We want to make that first visit as simple and friendly as possible. Hopefully, we can have a couple more of those types of visits before we start trying to clean a child’s teeth.

That leads to the next common question, “When should I bring my little guy in for his first actual cleaning?” That’ll depend a little on what we see going on in your child’s mouth as you bring them in for “happy visits,” but we try to not wait any longer than age three to start getting in there with at least a toothbrush. Again, the goal is to have multiple easy experiences before we introduce anything that might make your child feel scared. Once we’ve gained their confidence, we can start telling them what we’re going to do, show them what tools we’ll be using and even let them hold an instrument or two before we begin. You know your child best, so we rely on you to let us know if there’s something in particular that your child won’t like (or even if they didn’t get their nap so they might be a little touchy).

Dentistry is a scary thing for many people, but creating the right kind of experience from the beginning can make it less so.