Your child’s first dental visit is a milestone that can bring butterflies to our stomachs. Many of us don’t realize how important it is and have a lot of questions about what to expect. The first dental visit is super important because we are setting the foundation for our child’s oral health. Dental health is an integral part of their overall health for the rest of their lives.
Dr. Rima Bazzi from Contemporary Dentistry has all the tips and information you need to make your child’s first dental visit a great success!
When should I make the first appointment?
Usually a good time for the first visit is sometime before their first birthday, or around six months after the first tooth comes in. These early appointments are super important for making sure your child’s smile is healthy and their oral development is on track.
At this first visit, the dentist can give you information on:
- Baby bottle tooth decay
- Infant feeding practices
- Mouth cleaning
- Pacifier habits
- Finger-sucking habits
What happens at the first appointment?
The first visit often lasts 30 to 45 minutes. Depending on your child’s age, the visit may include a full exam of the teeth, jaws, bite, gums, and oral tissues to check growth and development. If needed, your child may also have a gentle cleaning. This includes polishing teeth and removing any plaque, tartar, and stains.
What if my child is nervous?
Another big benefit of going to the dentist at a young age is that it lets kids get comfortable with the practice, making future visits a breeze. We know going to the dentist for the first time can be a little scary. Hey, even adults get nervous about going to the dentist sometimes! For the kiddos, a lot of this is just a fear of the unknown.
There are a number of steps you can take to help alleviate these jitters. Here’s how to prepare your child for their first dental visit to ensure it runs smoothly:
- Make the experience as positive and fun as possible.
- Prepare your child. Always chat about the dentist in positive terms and let them know what will happen while they’re at the dentist’s office. Build excitement and understanding.
- If possible, schedule morning appointments so young children are alert and fresh.
Remember that your feeling toward dental visits can be quite different from your child’s. If you have dental anxieties, be careful not to relate those fears or dislikes to your child. Parents need to give moral support by staying calm while in the dental exam room. Children can pick up on parents’ anxieties and become anxious themselves.
What else can I do to prepare for the first visit?
There are a few things you can do to prepare for the first visit to the dentist:
- Read a book or watch a video about going to the dentist. When kids see their favorite characters happily visiting the dentist, it helps put a positive spin on it. There are tons of videos and books about going to the dentist that children will love. Preparing your child for the dentist this way means when that first appointment rolls around, they’ll have an idea of what’s going to happen, and it won’t seem like a scary, new situation.
- Play some games. Dentist games for kids can be a really effective way to demystify the experience and get them ready for their first dental visit. Not sure where to start? Simply play dentist! Break out your child’s toothbrush and have them sit in a chair. Pretend you’re the dentist and count and brush their teeth. Talk through what you’re doing and why oral hygiene is so important. Then, swap roles or let your child have a turn being the dentist with a stuffed animal.
- Bring friends! If your child has a favorite stuffed animal or toy, bring it with you to the first dentist appointment. A familiar, beloved friend will help them feel safe and secure.
By using these tips to prepare your child for their first dental visit, you can help them feel confident and ready to hop up in the tooth doctor’s chair! For more information about children’s dental health, check out Tips for Improving Your Child’s Dental Health at Home.