When you see your child’s first tooth emerge, it is a moment to celebrate. It’s time to introduce your child to new foods and it’s also time to be concerned about your kid’s dental care. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends a visit to the dentist as soon as the first tooth appears or when your child is 6 months to 1 year old.
One of the mistakes parents make is that they wait until their child is a little older. But, bringing children to the dentists when they are 6 months to 1 year old helps parents to inculcate good dental habits in their child and if there are any dental issues prevalent, the kid’s dentist will be able to identify them.
Before the First Dental Visit
Children are a curious lot. They love to learn. It’s the right time to introduce them to teeth and mouth through fun activities. Singing songs, reading books and poems, crafts, etc. are fun ways of preparing children for their first dental visit. These tips will help you prepare your child to face the dentist comfortably.
8 Tips for Parents: Calming Dental Visit Jitters
If your child’s first dental visit is when the first tooth erupts, then your child is too young to feel anxiety. But, if the first visit is when the child is a little older, say around 2 years, then feeling anxious is quite understandable. Here are some tips on how you can calm your child’s first dental visit jitters:
- Take your child along with you for your dental checkup. It will give your child a sneak peek into how the teeth are cleaned and examined.
- Read books and research online on how to teach children the importance of dental health and prepare them for their first dental visit.
- Do role plays. Take turns in being a patient or a dentist with your child. Use mirrors or fingers to count and examine teeth, so when the actual visit is planned, the child knows what to expect.
- Make sure that your child is not cranky and is well rested before the dental visit.
- Promote a positive attitude towards oral hygiene at home. If you fear dental visits, please do not pass on the fear to your children. Portray the dentist and the dental visits in a positive light.
- Older siblings are good role models. If you have scheduled a dental checkup for your older one, let your younger child tag along. Watching their older sibling getting their teeth cleaned or examined is a good way to take away the feeling of anxiety.
- Show encouragement or reward them with a small toy if they go through their dental visit
without any hiccups.
- Let your child bring along their favorite toy for comfort while the dentist is at work.
At the Dentist: What to expect
The first dental visit presents an excellent opportunity for the dentist to interact with the child in a friendly manner. This helps the child accept and trust the dentist for further dental exams. In the first dental visit, the dentist will do the following:
Examine the teeth.
Check their existing teeth for decay.
Examine the bite, and check for issues in gums, jaw and oral tissues.
Clean or polish teeth depending on the age of the child.
Dentists will also teach your child the importance of a healthy mouth and how to take care of their teeth. They may use a model of a mouth and let the child touch it to count the teeth. The dentist may also introduce the different tools used in dentistry for children and may allow them to touch and feel them. This experience may make their future dental checkups a little less scary.
You as a parent can use the first dental visit as an opportunity to clear all your doubts about your kid’s dental care. Following questions are great to ask:
What hygiene routine to follow?
What are the developmental milestones?
What are signs that indicate that something is wrong?
After the First Dental Visit: Continuing the Kids Dental Care Regime
Instilling good dental habits takes more than one dental visit. Follow-up appointments, twice a year are essential to maintaining healthy teeth.
Some tips to help maintain your kid’s oral hygiene:
Stop the thumb or pacifier sucking to avoid problems in tooth growth or formation.
Restrict consumption of sugary snacks like soda, and candies
Brush your child’s teeth twice a day using a soft toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. It’s a good way to instill good brushing habits.
If it’s your child’s first visit, Dr. Long and team understands what you and your child might be going through. Schedule an appointment with us and clear all the doubts you may be having regarding your child’s first dental visit. We are committed to giving your child an experience that will help them achieve healthy teeth for a lifetime. Give us a call today!