When the time comes for your child’s first dentist visit, you want to be sure the visit will be a success. As we all know, there’s no second chance to make a first impression, and your dentist wants to create a positive first step in a long life of keeping teeth healthy with regular dental care. But even if there are a few bumps in the road, with the right attitude and a few simple practices, you can help make your dentist’s office a positive place for your child.
When Should My Child See The Dentist For The First Time?
The American Dental Association (ADA) now recommends that parents bring in their young children as soon as their first baby teeth appear, so more and more parents are bringing in babies as young as a year old. But many parents wait until preschool age. Your dentist often sees children for their first visit around the age of 3.
Tips For Making Your Child’s First Dental Visit A Success
Here are a few tips for making that first visit a success for your toddler or preschool-aged child:
- Talk to your child about what to expect. Before that first visit, sit down with your child and go over what a check-up involves. In most cases, your dentist will take a look in your child’s mouth to check for cavities and then do a basic cleaning. Your dentist usually won’t take X-rays at the first visit for younger patients. They’ll opt to wait until your child is a little more comfortable in the chair. The ADA can help you prepare for your visit with a host of resources. The ADA has developed a website just for kids at mouthhealthykids.org, with activity sheets, games and quizzes, and helpful kid-oriented videos.
- Don’t wait until there’s a problem. Make sure your child’s first dental visit is a plain and simple check-up. The best way to establish trust is to set up a positive, stress-free visit, where questions can be asked and answered and where your child can get to know the dentist and staff.
- Focus on preventive care at home – before and after the first visit. Parents can talk about – and demonstrate – the importance of brushing and flossing at home before the first dental visit. And remember, preschool-aged children will still need help with the basics and often need mom or dad to brush and floss for them. You are both their most important partner and their role model where dental health is concerned.
- Check your own attitude and discussions about going to the dentist. When you go for your own check-ups, let your child know you’re going – and focus on the positive. After your visit, talk with your child about how it went and what happened. And be sure not to let any anxiety you have about the dentist creep through in discussions with your spouse or friends when little ears can hear.
- Pick the right time of day. As the experts at the ADA point out, the timing of a dental appointment can have a big impact on its success. Many kids are exhausted by the afternoon, so in many cases, a morning appointment is a better option. On the other hand, if getting out of the house early is stressful, avoid an appointment first thing in the morning. And be sure to work around naptime!
- Make sure your child isn’t hungry. While dentists love clean teeth, the ADA recommends serving a light meal before the appointment to avoid blood sugar-related crankiness. And be sure to have them brush before heading out as an exercise in consideration and a reminder about brushing after meals.
- Think of your dentist as your partner. Remind your child before the visit that your dentist is there to help them maintain a healthy mouth and avoid cavities. If your child gets upset at the first visit, don’t automatically jump in to “fix” things. Instead, give your dentist a chance to calm and redirect your child. Your family dentist has seen just about everything and has plenty of experience with first-time patients.
Creating Good Habits: Parents And Dentists Are A Great Team
Getting young children engaged in their own dental health is a goal of every family dentist, and it’s a goal that’s shared by so many parents. That’s why that first visit is so important. But there’s no need to stress. A little advance preparation and leading by example are usually all it takes to get your child started with great oral care habits!
If you think your child is ready for their first dental visit, contact Greenhill Family Dental today for a free consultation!