Taking your baby to the dentist early on is a great idea. It gives them a positive first experience, is the chance to learn more about looking after their teeth and can be reassuring.
As part of National Smile Month we're bringing you a full baby teeth blog series, to answer all your questions about going to the dentist with your little one, so let's get started.
Why take your baby to the dentist?
We all know someone whose first memory of visiting a dentist is traumatic. Almost everyone finds the sights, smells, and feelings we have at the dentist to be strange, so taking your baby to experience this early will help it seem less alien each time they go.
By making a trip to the dentist a normal part of life, your child will be less afraid later on and taking them early also means that the chance of them needing treatment is small. Starting early almost guarantees that they'll have a positive experience and your little one's first experience of the dentist will be meeting someone friendly, fun and generous with stickers.
With a bit of luck, fear won't feature at all and they will be happy to go back next time.
Can I register my baby with a dentist?
Unless you live in Scotland, it’s a common misconception that we need to register with a dentist. NHS dentists in England and Wales haven't registered patients for over a decade. This doesn’t mean you can’t have an ongoing relationship with your dentist. Once you’re on their books, a dental practice will invite you back at regular intervals for check-ups.
Finding a dentist for your baby
If you or your partner have a dentist already then start by calling them first for an appointment to see your little one. Don’t have a dentist? you can look for one locally to see you and your baby. For NHS dentists, search by postcode here for England, here for Wales and here for Scotland. NHS practices can’t always accept new patients so you may need to ring around a few before you find one that does.
Another option is to take your baby to see a private dentist (almost all dentists offer some level of private service). Be aware though, that the amount you pay will vary by practice.
Did you know? you don’t have to pay for NHS dental check-ups or treatment if you are pregnant or have had a baby in the last 12 months or You are under the age of 18
When to book the first appointment?
The best time for that first visit is after your baby’s first tooth comes through and before their first birthday. But if you haven't managed a visit by their first birthday, relax and book an appointment when you can.
What happens on your first visit to the dentist?
The first dentist appointment for a baby is usually short and sweet. You will meet the friendly team and the dentist will have a quick look in your baby's mouth. Usually you will hold your baby while the dentist has a look (they have ways of making this easy on your little one). The dentist will:
Check your baby’s teeth and gums.
Give you advice on how to look after your baby’s mouth.
Tell you when your baby’s next appointment should be.
This is also your chance to ask your dentist any burning questions. Want to know more about teething, how to brush well or tooth-friendly snacks? Your dentist will be happy to help. Also for mums' its an excellent time to take advantage of your own free check-up.
Getting them off to a great start
Your first visit to the dentist really is all about getting them off to a great start with a positive first visit and a lifetime of healthy teeth and happy trips to the dentist.
Check out our blog series on dental health for your little one for more hints and tips on your baby and their teeth.
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