Karen Koster launches ‘First Dental Visit’ campaign

Dr Paul O'Dwyer, Karen Koster and Kate O'Riordan launching the Dental Care Ireland "First Dental Visit" campaign

Throughout the month of March 2018, Dental Care Ireland practices nationwide will be offering a free first dental visit to all patients under five.


TV broadcaster and mum Karen Koster was joined this week by Kate O’Riordan (age 2) to launch Dental Care Ireland’s ‘First Dental Visit’ campaign, which aims to raise awareness about the importance of establishing a good dental health routine from an early age. Throughout the month of March 2018, Dental Care Ireland practices nationwide will be offering a free first dental visit to all patients under five.

Speaking at the launch, Karen Koster said, “We all know about teething and tooth fairies when it comes to our children’s dental health, but otherwise I think there can be a tendency to wait until a problem arises before seeking advice. At the baby and toddler stage in particular, it is so helpful to speak to a dentist and find out what you should or shouldn’t be doing to prevent potential issues from the outset. I am sure most parents will agree that it is a challenge to get any toddler to brush their teeth, but it’s all about establishing a routine and hopefully encouraging a habit for life.”

According to Dr Paul O’Dwyer, group clinical advisor at Dental Care Ireland, “Despite the fact that they will eventually fall out, the importance of deciduous or ‘baby’ teeth cannot be overstated. A good primary dentition helps your child to establish strong biting and chewing patterns, develop speech, and hold healthy space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums.

“Baby teeth are just as prone to cavities as permanent or ‘adult’ teeth. Teaching children to look after their baby teeth from an early age, will pave the way for a healthy adult mouth. Early attendance at the dentist is the cornerstone of good dental health, and a successful first dental visit can make all the difference.”

5 tips on a successful first dental visit

1. When to visit

The ideal time to bring your child to the dentist is before the age of two, and preferably when the first tooth arrives. This gives you, the parent, an opportunity to ask dietary and hygiene questions, and seek professional advice on best maintenance.

It also allows your dentist to establish a baseline record of your child’s dental health and development, safe-guarding the establishment of good dental health and preventing the premature loss of vital baby teeth through decay.

2. Appointment time

For a first visit, it is particularly important to ensure that your child is as relaxed as possible. Ideally, pick a time of day that suits you both, so that nobody feels too rushed, tired or hungry.

It is best if the appointment time does not interfere with nap routines, sports schedules or even a favourite programme!

3. Talk about teeth

It helps to be mindful of the language used in preparation for a dental visit. For example, use positive words and phrases such as check-up, counting teeth or looking at the mouth, rather than referring to unfamiliar terms such as extractions or fillings.

In advance, it can also be a good idea to introduce baby and child-friendly books or songs about brushing teeth or trips to the dentist.

4. Establish a brushing routine

As the first baby teeth arrive at approximately six months, it is often a good idea to introduce the concept of oral hygiene at this time. For very young infants, merging a brushing routine into bath time is an excellent way to inspire a regular dental health regime for the future. Incorporating supervised brushing into your child’s usual every day morning and evening schedules is key.

For 0-2 year olds, brushing with a toothbrush and water is best. From 2-7 years, children should brush twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. A useful tip is to bring along your child’s tooth brush to their dental check-up, so that the dentist can see that they are using the correct size and strength for their teeth.

5. What to expect

Depending on the child’s age, they can either sit on a parent’s lap for the examination, or else sit on the chair by themselves.

The dentist examines the child’s mouth and gums, in order to identify any issues such as decay, crowding problems, or developmental anomalies. If needed, they may take an X-ray. They will then polish the child’s teeth and offer the parent preventative hygiene and dietary advice.

Many dental practices now offer child-friendly waiting areas or surgeries, as well as post-visit rewards.

Throughout the month of March 2018, Dental Care Ireland practices nationwide will be offering a free first dental visit to all patients under five. Click here to book an appointment

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