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When Do You Start Taking Your Toddler to the Dentist?

My toddler daughter (17 months) has her upper/lower back molars coming in and I'm wondering if it's time to start taking her to a pediatric dentist? When is a good time to start? She's good about brushing her teeth (twice daily) or we clean them for her. What happens at these visits? Not sure if I can picture my kid sitting still in the dental chair but if anyone can elaborate on their experiences, that would be helpful!

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The soonest my dentist would see my children was age 2. I started taking them at 2 and they have never had a bad experience.

I think it depends on the dentist. Most family dnetists seem to reccomend three years old but most pediatirc ones want to see them shortly after thier first teeth come in and then once a year until they are ready for regualr cleanings. Being a military family we have moved around a lot and received several different reccomendations. My oldest did not see a dentist until age 3 but do to fears didn't have his teeth cleaned until 4. My next at 2 1/2, my third at 2 and the last two both saw the dentist before they were one. In toddlers they simply take a look and brush the teeth with a regualr tooth brush. The idea is for the visit to be pleasant.

We also have a 17 month old boy and want to take him to the dentist! We think it is important to do it now so he isn't scared! And they have teeth, so they should see a dentist, right? But a lit of dentists will say to bring them in when they are 2 or 3 and I think that is too old! Do you have a dentist in mind? We are new to the area and need a recommendation too!

Andrea, Micki and Javier

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Dear G.,
I used to work for a pediatric dental specialist. It is not uncommon for children to see the dentist once they have their teeth and certainly 18 months is not too early. Unless there is obvious decay or something, the first visit is usually just about watching a video about teeth cleaning and getting them used to the environment and trying to get a non threatening evaluation done regarding brushing habits, etc. A good pediatric dentist usually knows how to deal with a child that may be timid or wiggly, etc. They can let the child hold a mirror and help with counting teeth, etc. I can't remember how young she was, but we got my daughter's first x-rays and knew very early on when her big teeth started coming in she wouldn't have enough room for them. We didn't have to actually deal with it until she was older, but she did have to have teeth pulled because there was no room in her mouth for all the teeth that would come in and they would get pushed out of shape and overlap. Her father had the same thing. Anyway, like I said, we knew early on what would happen when her big teeth would come in so we were prepared for it. I think it's best to start kids out early going to the dentist because it just becomes something you do to take care of their teeth and you have less chance of them freaking out later, especially if they need any work done.
If you can afford it, call around to pediatric dental specialists in your area to get a feel for how they deal with children and when they think is a good time to schedule an appointment. At the office where I worked, we always gave the kids a balloon and a goody bag with sugarless suckers and all kinds of neato toothbrushes and rinses and cute floss and stickers for keeping up their brushing. The first visit is usally pretty low key.

Best wishes!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi G.. Good for you for being on top of your daughter's dental health! I am a dentist (not pediatric, but I do see kids), and I noticed a lot of responders are stating that their dentist recommends age 3 or 4. Those dentists may be a little old-school (or not as patient with young children). The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry are now recommending children to see the dentist around the time the first teeth come in, or by their 1st birthday. The dentist will be able to spot any early problems (which are rare), go over a family history (since cavities are contagious, and tend to run in families, and there is a good amount of genetic component in oral health), and do a quick and easy exam and cleaning. The visit shouldn't take long. Now would be a great time to have your daughter see the dentist. Kids tend to be more curious (rather than fearful) at a younger age, and it is usually a great experience. Hope this helps! Good luck! - N. :)

1 mom found this helpful

We took our daughter when she was 2 but I read you should take them once they get teeth. We go to a pediatric dentist who is use to dealing with squirmy toddlers. They had us dress she is party clothes, showed her around the office, let her play with the office dog and took her picture. They did look at her teeth but it seemed like it was about us learning about how to help her take care of her teeth and what foods to stay away from and for her to have a very positive experience at the dentist.

I tried starting to take my son at 2, but the dentist wasn't really interested in seeing him yet so for two years he went with me to watch what they did to me and would get to sit in the chair for a couple minutes to get his "teeth counted" and see if they could spot any "sugar bugs". He is now 4 and had his first real dentist visit this spring.

I started taking my daughter at 1 year. If you have DDS insurance I would take her now, if you don't 3 is probably ok. When we take our daughter she sits on my lap facing me and then we lean her back into the dds lap. At our last visit (she was 2) he showed me a couple places that had a little plaque build up and I got to discuss some discoloration on her bottom front 4 teeth.
I originally took her at 1 because she had an eruption cyst on her upper right area. Once I got there I realized that if I take her every 6 months it won't be new and she would be use to the sites and sound by 3 or 4. Also, we have dds insurance so it's free...why not?
Our dds told us to brush every day and once their teeth start to touch to start flossing.
Best of luck,

HI G.,
I took my daughter when she turned 2 although my dentist recommended taking her at 18 mos. At the first appointment, they just count their teeth and make them feel very comfortable with going to the dentist. At the second appointment, they will clean her teeth. I don't think they x-rayed my daughter til she turned 3. I don't know where you live but I love my pediatric dentist. His name is Dr. Benjamin Cho and he is in Milpitas on Calaveras and Milpitas Blvd. He's great and his staff is great. Good luck! C.

Good Morning G., it is 4:30 am here in CA.
With 4 of our 5 children (one we got older through foster) we started at 15 months.
I have a wonderful dentist. Dr. D. Crockett, in Hayward Ca. He is a soft spoken man and my children have never been afraid because by the time they were 15 months old, he would have them sit in the chair, look into their mouths and would for one child who had such hard gums have to help the teeth break through. His goal was to have them comfortable enough to not have fear and to trust him.. Then ofcourse the new toothbrush and paste is always a hit! So when you go just take your child along and let her hear the noise,& see things.
I do want to say that my 2 1/2 year old grandaughter, is scared of the dentist right now because of the Nemo movie. That character is not a good thing to see. But I know that Dr. Crockett, will even work past that with her.
Good Luck,NanaGlenda

Hi G.,

I started taking my kids to the dentist once they turned 2. We have an awesome kids dentist. They totally make the kids feel comfortable. They take a picture of their first time, they show them a big false set of teeth and a big toothbrush and how to brush. Then they take Xrays and then the dentist examines their teeth. I was able to stay with mine as they were on the table just to reassure them and hold their hands. Now 5 and 8, the love going to the denstist and have remained cavity free(except for a very small spot on my son which they fixed without any shots).

God bless

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