|Cartoon by Aishwarya Jayadeep|
Let me take you people a few years back to when my little girl was a baby. Aishwarya,my bundle of joy and apple of my eyes, had her first teeth at the age of around 6 months. They were small milky white; and to me, her mother, the prettiest little teeth. Before I go on with my story I want to let you people on some facts. Babies can have their little chompers as early as 3 months or as late as 14 months, depending on their genes and depending on weather or not the baby was a preemie (preemies tend to teeth late). In short, what I am trying to convey is that there could be differences between one baby and another with regard to their teething patterns.
Now, back to where I started. Soon Aishwarya had a full set of teeth and she was flashing her pearly whites and making all of us dance to her tunes. I didn't feel it was that important to take her to the dentist for a check up (I had stopped practicing dentistry by then). I always thought her teeth were safe with me being there and that she was not losing anything by not having her formal dental checkup. How wrong I was!
When she turned 4 her dad Jai had to take up a position in the US. So Aishwarya and I had to stay for about 4 months at my parents and inlaws before we joined him. During that time Aishwarya was eating her share of chocolates and chips as if there is no tomorrow, mostly without me knowing. She had her grandparents around her little pinky and used to play her cards so well that they danced to her tunes. During that same time I myself was not keeping that well. So I trusted Aishwarya, who I now considered to be a big girl, to brush by herself. My! My! That was the second mistake. In short, by the time we both landed in the US, Aishwarya had her first cavity. We took her to a pedodontist(Dentist specializing on kid's teeth). Aishwarya being a shy kid didn't even open her mouth,so the dentist suggested oral sedation. I being a mom who wanted only the very best for my baby didn't want to try this on my baby when I looked into the possible side-effects of the sedation. I tried consulting two other dentists who were just after my money only. That is a story for another day. In the end I consented for the oral sedation and got Aishwarya's tooth filled without much ado. Only then I realized that had I taken Aishwarya to a dentist before, she would have been more comfortable with the dental office experience and wouldn't have needed the oral sedation. With this experience behind me, here I am stressing the importance of early dental check-up for kids, not just as a dentist, but as a mom as well.
Now questions would be when should the child first see a dentist; how to find a good dentist; what you can do to make it an easy experience and how often you need to take the child to the dentist.
The ideal time is six months after the first tooth erupts or approximately at one year of age. This is an ideal time for the dentist to carefully examine the development of your child's mouth.
Even though many general dentists do take-up children as patients, my suggestion would be to find a Pedodontist ( one who is trained and is specialized in treating kids). They would know how to deal with kids better and would be more knowledgeable about issues specific to kids.
Try to schedule a morning appointment when the child is in a good mood. Don't ever portray the dental office as a bad place to be and always give them an idea about what to expect there.Bring with you to the appointment any records of your child's complete medical history. Ideally ,children, like adults should see the dentist every six months.
Hope this will retain a lasting smile on your babies teeth.