When is the Right Time for Baby to Go to a Dentist?
It is recommended that children have their first dental visit when the first tooth erupts into the mouth or by age 1 the latest. If you haven’t brought your child to see a pediatric dentist, you may be wondering how the dental team examines and cleans the teeth of a baby or toddler. Many pediatric dentists use a technique called “knee-to-knee” or “lap-to-lap” in which the dental professional sits opposite the child’s parent and the child is gently reclined onto the lap of the dental professional. This technique is advantageous for many reasons. First, the position allows the child to be close to their parent. The child can see the parent, hold their hands, and listen to their voice throughout the visit. Second, the position facilitates excellent visualization of the oral cavity both for the dental professional as well as the parent. This allows the dentist and hygienist to demonstrate brushing/flossing techniques as well as point out any areas of concern to the parent. Finally, the position mimics lying back in a dental chair which helps to prepare the child to sit independently one day. Many children are ready to sit on their own in the dental chair by age 3 or 4. However, until a child is ready the knee-to-knee position helps to ease the child’s anxiety and establish your child’s trust with the dental team. Early visits to the dentist starting around age 1 are a great way to get your little one on track for life long oral health!