At James’ 2 year checkup, I asked his doctor the ideal age for a first dentist appointment. While a dentist may say at the first sign of a tooth, our pediatrician recommended between 2 and 3 years old. I went home, did my research on the best dentist in the area and booked an appointment for James.
The appointment lasted about 20 minutes TOPS. James laid down on the reclining seat where he could look up to find a television mounted to the ceiling! He chose to watch Paw Patrol but as soon as he heard the tools, that changed. I ended up holding James on my lap while the dentist did his work. The dentist counted James’ teeth (full set of pearly whites and 4 molars coming in), quickly brushed his teeth with toothpaste and then cleaned his teeth with fluoride. At the end, James got to choose a prize (a matchbox car of course!) and place a personalized paper tooth on the wall! After each tooth lost he will be able to put a sticker on the tooth and check back every time!
James is a thumb sucker. It may be good for self-soothing but there is no stopping the motion from happening like a pacifier. James’ dentist advised that it will not harm his development nor impede on his speech but if it lasts (it can last until age 8!) then he will eventually need braces. Honestly, I am happy if that’s the worst thing!
WHAT DOES BRUSHING LOOK LIKE
- Ideally one minute (we let James hold his toothbrush but to get a better cleaning, make sure the caregiver gets in there as well. The dentist says as long as you keep the routine consistent, he will get used to it. If he doesn’t want his teeth brushed one night make sure you do a quick clean just to show it’s part of the routine! It’s okay if it only lasts 5 seconds.)
- Under 3 years old : A grain of rice amount of toothpaste (Our dentist gave the go ahead on fluoride toothpaste. If James finishes his grain of rice size amount and wants more, he recommended using a non-fluoride toothpaste.
- 3-5 years old : A pea size amount of toothpaste
- Molars : James’ are coming in now at 2+ years old. Look for excess drool and putting hands in mouth.
- Brush at least once a day, especially at night. If you can, brush in the morning as well.Keep it fun! Brush along side your child. Hum a song.
Ask your dentist! Our dentist made sure to let us know that he is always available. If we have questions or concerns we can always call him. He said we can even text a picture of his teeth and he will help! If James falls and hurts his teeth, he said we can always bring him in right away, even on the weekends. This information was a sigh of release just in case something were to happen!
Prepare your child with first time at the dentist books and games. Our dentist sent a coloring book to James, describing the experience, what happens and what to expect at the dentist, and it even showed a photo of his dentist!
Look! My Tooth is Loose! by Patricia Brennan Demuth
Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer
What to Expect When You Go To The Dentist by Heidi Murkoff
Show Me Your Smile! A Dora Book by Christine Ricci