Your Child’s First Dental Visit: Tips for Moms & Dads
With all the new experiences children might encounter at the dental office, it’s no surprise that parents might be a little anxious about their child’s first dental visit. But if you’re thinking about your infant’s dental health, you’re already a gold star parent. Setting up your child’s first dental visit is a step in the right direction, and every little baby step you take from there will prepare your child for an easy dental visit.
When taking a child to the dentist for the first time, parents should follow the “rules of ones.” Children should see the dentist by the time they get their first tooth or reach their first birthday, and then continue with regular dental visits every six months — just like their parents!
With a majority of families not taking their children to the dentist until the age of 3, you’ll already be ahead of the game. Introducing professional dental care into your children’s lives early is a great way for parents to stay on top of their dental health.
Properly preparing children for the dentist will help guarantee a successful visit. When talking to your child about his or her first dental visit, be careful how you phrase your discussion. Avoid using negative words that might create unnecessary dental anxiety, such as hurt, needles or drill. Instead, speak in general terms and remain positive — after all, visiting the dentist keeps you feeling great, so why wouldn’t you want to go? It’s also important to lead by example — when children see you visiting the dentist every six months, they’ll be more likely to follow your lead.
Easier Than You Think
At the dental office, you’ll be asked for your child’s medical history. Be sure to tell your dentist about any allergies your children have or medications they’re taking. Some dentists may ask the parents to come into the operatory with the child, while others request that parents stay in the waiting room. If you have a strong preference, you should ask the dental office about their policies when making the appointment.
During the appointment, a dental exam will be performed. What is the dentist looking for? Not only do dentists check for any signs of tooth decay, but they’ll also check your child’s bite, gums and other parts of the mouth to make sure everything is in tip-top shape. If necessary, the dentist or dental hygienist may perform a dental cleaning or fluoride treatment to fight the “bad guys” — you may know them as cavities. The first dental visit is also a great time to ask questions and make sure you’re on the right path with your child’s oral hygiene routine. Before you know it, the appointment will be over, and your child will leave the office with a super smile!
For Ultimate Relief
Dentistry has come a long way over the years — thanks to advancements in dental technology, most dentists are practicing virtually pain-free dentistry. But if you’re still concerned, you may want to consider a pedodontist, or pediatric dentist, or a dentist who works well with children. Pediatric dentists have extra schooling to accommodate the special dental needs of children. And many dentists who are skilled in pediatric dentistry have created an environment that puts children at ease. As children learn that taking care of their teeth makes them look and feel good, they may actually start looking forward to visiting the dentist!
Congratulations — by making that first dental appointment, you’re putting your child on the right track to dental health. With the right preparation and a friendly dental office, your child will have a positive first dental experience — and many more for years to come!