- Professional dental care
- Your child’s first visit
- X-rays and your child
- Tooth problems
- Healthy Kids Program
- General practitioners and pediatric dentists
- How to find a dentist
Professional dental care
Regular dental visits are an important part of a child’s oral health prevention program. The first dental visit should take place by your baby’s first birthday. Your dentist will examine their teeth, give you tips on taking care of them and, if there are any problems, attend to it early.
The earlier your child’s first visit to the dentist, the better the chance of preventing problems. Children who start visiting the dentist at a young age will come to see visits as routine and will not be apprehensive during regular checkups.
Your child's first visit
Book your first appointment for your child at about 12 months old, unless you notice problems earlier. To make their first visit a positive experience, set it for a time when your child will be well rested and relaxed. Treat the appointment as routine and bring along a favourite toy or blanket.
The dentist will examine your child’s teeth and discuss their diet, how to clean their teeth properly and other factors that can affect oral health. While the child may cry, this is only a temporary upset. Fluoride may be applied to their teeth.
The dentist will recommend the frequency of your child’s visits, normally twice a year. This allows the dentist to catch any potential problems early. Early intervention may prevent the problems from getting much worse. Children who are at increased risk of tooth decay, have unusual growth patterns, or who have poor oral hygiene may need more frequent visits.
X-rays and your child
X-rays are generally not taken until your child is old enough to understand how to cooperate for this procedure. X-rays show decay between teeth and also show if adult teeth are coming in properly.
Under some circumstances, like an accident involving the mouth, dental X-rays may be done on children as young as a year old. The x-rays are safe for your child. Dentists are careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed.
Some adults think that because baby teeth will eventually be replaced by adult teeth, there is no need to have them checked or fixed if there is a problem. However, early childhood cavities may get progressively worse, leading to pain and infection.
Without treatment, decay can spread deeper into the tooth, causing pain and infection and even damage to the underlying adult tooth. The baby tooth or teeth may need to be removed. Unfortunately, because of their young age, children may require treatment under sedation or general anesthesia at a hospital.
There are further consequences for the next generation of teeth if the baby tooth is missing. As a result of the tooth loss, the teeth next to it can move into the space, blocking the adult tooth from coming in.
If you notice white or brown spots on your child’s teeth, call your dentist for an appointment right away. These spots could indicate the start of a cavity.
If your child is past teething and complains of a toothache or seems to be in pain when eating or having their teeth brushed, you should also see a dentist as soon as possible.
For more information, and eligibility, please refer to the Healhty Kids Program website
General practitioners and pediatric dentists
A general practitioner dentist requires a minimum of seven years of post secondary education to earn a degree of Doctor of Dental Medicine. General practitioners see patients of all ages and may refer you to a specialist for particular needs. Your family dentist may work in conjunction with a pediatric dentist to manage a child with tooth decay.
Pediatric dentists specialize in the treatment of young people, from infants to adolescents. They have two to three years specialty training following dental school. They also treat patients of all ages with special needs.
How to find a dentist
Your first choice in finding a dentist for your young child is to ask family and friends for recommendations. You can also check the BC Dental Association's website which lists dentists who examine or treatment young children, or call them at 604 736 7202 or 1 888 396 9888.