photo by JawkneeP

If you ask anyone with kids about when to take a child for his first dental visit, you will get an array of responses. When that first tooth appears, regardless of the age. On their third birthday. If you can see problems with the teeth. At the age of two.

It’s all very muddled and murky – and the pediatrician generally isn’t much clearer. Personally, I think one needs to take their family dental history into consideration, mix in their child’s personality with their ability to sit in a chair and allow someone to look in their mouth for any length of time, and throw in a dash of common sense to come up with the right age for their child.

For us, it was right around Bubbs third birthday that I decided to try it out. And I’m glad I waited that long. Both of my boys had teeth at 4 months of age. Really? Can you see a 4-month old getting much out of a dental exam when on appearance the teeth and gums look completely normal? I can’t.

And my Bubbs at two would not have been able to sit still long enough without causing a scene in that dentist chair – so that was an easy decision to keep him home another year.

At three, he had been in Sunday School for two years and preschool for a few weeks, which enabled him to understand that when an adult is speaking to you or asking something of you, it’s good to listen and pay attention. I was pleasantly surprised at his first visit last year when he calmly laid in that dentist chair and allowed the doctor to take a peek. That’s all they did since, as I already knew, there didn’t appear to be any problems. Bubbs almost never has juice or soda of any kind, his candy consumption is minimal, and we brush and floss his teeth every day.

So on this visit, I wasn’t sure what to expect. He was just as calm in the chair, even when they put a cute pair of sunglasses on him to shield his eyes from the big light. I heard the word “cavity” and my heart started to race a bit. My first thought was, “Definitely getting a second opinion!!” but then I relaxed and decided to wait out the exam before ripping Bubbs from the chair and marching out the front door.

Thankfully he just had some staining on an inside lower tooth, which after several pokes and prods didn’t appear to be the start of a cavity. Whew!

I watched as the hygienist then proceeded to clean Bubbs’ teeth. With an electric toothbrush. Bubbs has only ever used a good old-fashioned non-electric toothbrush. Amazingly, he allowed Mr. Burly Hands (the hygienist) to clean his teeth and floss them. Then the dentist came and looked around for a bit, discussing family history with me. Then they put on a fluoride paste that’s to last all day and will be brushed off tonight.

And not a single whine from my Bubbs. Not one – the entire time!!

It truly was a delightful morning at the pediatric dentist. Who’d a thunk??

As for my Wee Bubbs, who is 10 months old and has 6 teeth, he’ll be staying away from the dental chair until age 3, if possible, as well. He’s an even squirmier kid than Bubbs and I’m already envisioning chomps and screams during his first visit.

I think I’ll hold off on that for now!

So, do you have an opinion on the “best” age to take a child to the dentist? Is it based on your personal experience, a suggestion from the pediatrician or because that’s just what others suggested?