Many parents fear taking their children to the dentist for the first time. They worry the child will be scared or aren’t ready for the trip. It’s normal to worry, but we’re here to tell you that going to the dentist is an exciting, crucial appointment for your child.
Here are five tips for your child’s first dental visit.
Child’s First Dental Visit Age
Some people think it’s best to take their child to the dentist when all of their teeth come in. Others think it’s best to go when that first tooth pokes through. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends it is best for a child to visit the dentist no later than two years of age. This usually means a child goes to the dentist once their first tooth pops up.
Don’t Expect Anything Invasive
Your fears should be put to rest when you realize your child’s first dental visit won’t be full of whirring machines and scary tools. This first visit is usually about introducing the child to the dentist’s office, counting their teeth, and letting them explore the place. They can sit in the chair and ask questions.
The dentist is probably going to check quickly for tooth decay or cavities. They’ll look at your child’s bite and gums to make sure everything is okay. Then they’ll talk to both of you about oral hygiene and make sure you’re doing everything right.
Talk About the Dentist
It’s important to get your child ready for the dentists by being open and honest. Let them ask you questions if they’re scared. Build up the excitement of getting their “sugar bugs” cleaned out of their mouth. Talk about it as an adventure instead of something they have to do.
Since you don’t know what they have heard from friends, siblings or TV, tell your child what to expect, and explain everything about what a dentist does on a daily basis. You could even read books about going to the dentist. You can also get them excited by telling them all about the tooth fairy. (The tooth fairy and the dentist have to be best friends since they both deal with teeth).
Make the dentist all about something they need to do, but explain it’s also a fun adventure.
Don’t Scare Them
Some adults have a lot of anxiety about the dentist. Don’t let your kids get these same fears. Remember, they don’t have a viewpoint about the dentist yet, so it’s best not to scare them away before they even get in the chair.
Give them moral support and stay calm once you get into the waiting room. You might be surprised that you’ll calm yourself down while you help your child get ready for the dentist. If you can handle it, take your child with you to your own appointment. This will help them realize you love going to the dentist, and let them see what all happens at a normal appointment.
If you’re scared, it will also be a way to distract yourself from the machines and sounds. Kids will pick up on your fears in the dentist’s chair, so make sure you smile and are calm. The dentist should explain what they are doing during the appointment so your child knows what to
Keep Up the Good Work
Keep up great dental habits after you leave the dentist. The dentist will teach your child how to properly brush and floss their teeth, but here are things you need to do between appointments.
- Help your child brush with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush, and put a tiny bit of fluoridated toothpaste on it until after they are three years old.
- Help them brush and floss their teeth until they are about eight years old.
- Make sure they brush their teeth at least twice a day.
- Talk to them about eating candy and drinking sugary drinks that lead to cavities.
Here are some things that can help generate good habits.
- Get them a toothbrush and toothpaste with their favorite characters.
- There are small flossers that help little hands get in between each teeth. Many little kids love to use these.
- Talk about the fun they had at the dentist, so it isn’t a shock when they need to go again in six months.
- Always allow questions about the dentist as they arise between appointments.
Going to the dentist should be a fun thing for kids. They should get excited to jump in the dental chair for a regular cleaning. And once the kids realize the dentist knows the tooth fairy, they’ll be even more excited to visit every six months.