Proper dental care isn’t just something that adults need to worry about. In fact, regular visits to the dentist should begin in infancy. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child’s first dental visit should occur before their first birthday or within 6 months of their first tooth erupting. Bringing your child to their visit dentist appointment can make any parents anxious about how it will go.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to feel better prepared for your child’s first dental visit. At Children’s Dentistry, we’ve put together a guide to help your child’s visit go safely and smoothly.
Before the Visit
When you make your child’s first dental visit, there are a few things that you should tell their dentist. If your child has any medical conditions or takes any medications, it’s important to let the dentist know. You may be asked to provide your pediatrician’s phone number in case the dentist needs to contact them for any follow-up information.
Many children have a sucking habit, whether it’s thumbs, pacifiers, or something else, which can have an impact on infant oral health. If this describes your child, it’s a good idea to tell their dentist. Sucking habits can affect your child’s teeth or jaw. When the dentist knows about these habits, they can check for any related damage.
It may be tempting to just have your child visit the same dentist that you do. Don’t fall into that trap! Your child’s first dental visit should be with a pediatric dentist who is specially trained to work with children. Adult dentist may not have the proper disposition for interacting with children and will be less familiar with common pediatric dental conditions.
Meet and Greet with the Dentist
Since the dentist will be a new environment for your child, there are steps that you and the dentist should take to help your child feel more comfortable. Introducing your child to the dentist can help them feel less afraid. The dentist can also show your child the tools that they will be using and show them how each one works. You and the dentist can assure your child that they can stay with Mom or Dad throughout the whole visit.
This initial introduction is a great time for parents to voice any questions or concerns that they may have. The dentist will take the time to address any issues that you may have, so you can feel confident about the rest of the visit.
Teaching Good Oral Habits
If your child is old enough, their dentist will explain basic oral health routines. Often, the dentist uses props like puppets and oversized brushes to make the lesson a little more fun. For children who are old enough to brush on their own, the dentist will show them how to properly brush their teeth. They’ll also explain some other basic oral hygiene tips like drinking a lot of water and avoiding sugary foods
Your child’s first dental visit will involve a standard teeth cleaning. Since teeth cleaning involves some machinery that may be intimidating to your child, the dentist will first show your child how everything works. The spitting cup can make some noises that your child might find scary, so the dentist will show them how to properly spit into it.
Before the dentist cleans your child’s teeth, they’ll outfit them with a pair of goggles or sunglasses to help protect them in case any toothpaste sprays out. The dentist will use a rotary toothbrush, and they’ll show your child how that works before putting it in their mouth.
After the cleaning, the dentist will use a sucking straw to extract any excess saliva or toothpaste. Like everything else, they will let your child see how the straw works before it goes into their mouth.
If your child has special needs or anxiety when visiting the dentist, consider pediatric sedation dentistry. Children’s Dentistry features a board-certified dental anaesthesiologist with extensive education and experience in sedation dentistry techniques.
Fluoride for Healthy Teeth
As the parent, it’s up to you whether the dentist applies a coat of fluoride after the cleaning. Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and when applied to teeth, helps prevent tooth decay. With your permission, the dentist will apply a coat of topical fluoride to your child’s teeth. Your child shouldn’t drink or eat anything for 30 minutes following the fluoride treatment.
A Prize for Good Behavior
Once your child has made it through their entire visit, many pediatric dentists offer them a small prize or reward for being brave. Small rewards can help the child associate the dentist with a positive feeling, which will help ease any fear or anxiety they may have. If they like their prize enough, they may even be excited to come back!
Keeping Up Healthy Habits at Home
After your child’s first dental visit, parents should make sure that they enforce proper oral hygiene at home. While dental visits are one part of keeping your child’s teeth healthy, proper brushing and habits at home are equally important.
If your child is too young to brush their teeth on their own, help them. If they are old enough, it’s best to supervise to make sure they’re brushing properly. Use a soft, kid-sized toothbrush, and be sure to replace it every 3 months or once the bristles begin to fray. Your child should brush their teeth twice a day, using no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride.
If your child does have a sucking habit, try to curb the habit as soon as possible. Sucking habits can lead tooth misalignment that could require orthodontic intervention.
At Children’s Dentistry of Las Vegas, we do everything can to make sure your child’s first dental visit goes off without a hitch. Our pediatric dentists have extensive experience working with children, and they will take the time to make sure that you and your child are completely at ease. When you’re ready to make your child’s first dentist appointment, contact Children’s Dentistry.