Good oral health habits should start early. Caring for children's teeth as soon as they appear and getting them used to the dental clinic from a young age can lower their risk of developing tooth decay and other problems throughout their lives.
With tooth decay on the rise in Australia, regular dental visits combined with daily home care can help children to avoid problems such as tooth loss and infections that could affect their permanent teeth later.
What age should a child go to the dentist?
Regular dental check-ups should begin by a child's first birthday or within 6 months of them getting their first tooth. Early preventive care and intervention has been shown to lower the risk of children developing oral health problems in the future.
Parents are also encouraged to bring children with them to their own appointments, as this can help to familiarise kids with the dental experience and make it less intimidating. Visiting the dentist should always be treated as a positive experience.
How often should a child see a dentist?
There are no Australian guidelines on how often children or adults should visit the dentist. Your child's dentist will recommend the most suitable visiting schedule based on their individual needs.
Regular check-ups give dentists the chance to monitor the development of children's teeth and jaws. They may also be able to spot early warning signs of dental or orthodontic problems that may be treated before they become more serious.
You should make an appointment to see a dentist if you notice anything unusual about your child's mouth, including red, swollen or bleeding gums, persistent toothache or other complaints. Your dentist will examine their teeth and discuss the most suitable treatment options so you can decide what's best for your child.
When should you start brushing a child's teeth?
Babies usually grow their first teeth around 6 months. Until the age of 18 months, you can clean their teeth and gums by gently wiping them with a soft cloth or a specially designed toothbrush and water.
From 18 months to around 6 years of age, toddlers and young children should brush their teeth twice a day using a children's toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of low-fluoride children's toothpaste. Children may need help brushing until the age of 4 or 5 and should be instructed to spit out the toothpaste.
From the age of 6, children should brush twice daily using a regular manual or electric toothbrush and standard fluoride toothpaste, unless their dentist has other recommendations. Children should still be supervised when brushing until the age of 7 or 8 or if they need to improve their oral health.
How much does a child dental visit cost?
The Australian Government's Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) reimburses the cost of children's check-ups and basic dental services up to $1,000 over a two-year period for eligible families. Many health funds also cover preventive dental care for child dependents.
Talk to your local dental clinic to find out more about CBDS, health funds and payment plans they offer to help make children's dentistry more affordable. To talk to a family dentist in Sydney, contact our team at Sydney CBD Dental today on (02) 9232 3900.
 Australian Health Policy Collaboration and Australian Dental Association. Australia's Oral Health Tracker - Technical Paper [Online] 2018 [Accessed February 2019] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/Dental-Professionals/Australia-s-Oral-Health-Tracker/Australia-s-Oral-Health-Tracker-Technical-Appendix/ADA_AHPC_Technical-Appendix_07032018.aspx
 Healthdirect. Dental care for children [Online] 2017 [Accessed February 2019] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dental-care-for-children
 Better Health Channel. Toothbrushing - children [Online] 2018 [Accessed February 2019] Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/toothbrushing-children