If you are the parent of a young child, you may have already witnessed many of your child’s first experiences. First smiles, first steps, and first words can be joyous occasions. A child’s first dental visit should also be a reason to celebrate.
Routine dental care helps to protect your child’s oral health. This increases the likelihood that your child’s teeth and gums will remain problem-free as the little one grows older. Still, a first dental visit can seem strange to a child because the little one may be unfamiliar with dental care. Here is a bit of information to help you know what to expect during the first appointment and how to prepare for it.
When Should Your Child’s First Dental Visit Occur?
Your little one should visit a dentist before the child has his or her first birthday. A child’s first teeth usually show up by the time a child is six months old. Thus, most children already have several teeth by age 1.
As soon as a child’s first baby teeth present, the child is at risk for tooth decay. In many instances, children develop cavities before age 4. As a result, early dental care is important.
What Will You Learn During the First Dental Appointment?
During the first dental visit, parents and children learn important information about pediatric dental health. Here are some of the things that a dentist may discuss with you during the first visit:
- When and how to start using fluoride products
- How to help your child overcome thumb-sucking or pacifier use
- How to properly brush your toddler’s teeth
- What to expect during teething
- How your child’s eating habits affect his or her oral health
Even though your initial concerns may be answered during the first dental visit, additional issues may still arise. These new concerns can be discussed at subsequent visits.
Your child will need to visit the dentist at least once every six months. If the child has an increased risk of developing oral health problems, the visits may be scheduled even more frequently. During each visit, the dentist will offer helpful advice to keep your child’s mouth healthy.
What Else Should You Expect During the First Dental Visit?
Knowing what to expect during your child’s first dental visit can put you and your child at ease. In addition to the discussions about your child’s oral health, the following may occur:
- Your child may not sit in the dental chair. First dental visits are often lap exams, where the little one sits on your lap throughout the appointment.
- Your child may cry. Due to the newness of the experience, your little one may cry. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It may help the dentist get a better view of your child’s mouth.
- The dentist will look for more than cavities. The dentist will also assess your little one’s mouth for signs of gum disease, problems with erupting teeth, and dental alignment issues.
How Should You Prepare for Your Child’s First Dental Visit?
There are some things that you can do as a parent to make your child’s first visit as positive as possible. Here are a few of them:
- Schedule the appointment when your child is likely to be well rested. Kids are usually crankier when they are tired. Be sure to schedule the first visit early in the day, when your child should not be sleepy.
- Bring along a favorite toy. If your child has a toy that makes the little one feel more comfortable, allow the youngster to bring it along.
- Have a pretend dental visit at home. Role play can help your child learn what to expect during the visit and quell the little one’s fears.
- Allow an older sibling to set the example. If your child has an older sibling, schedule the older child’s dental visit at the same time. As your younger child watches an older brother or sister receive dental care, the little one will feel more comfortable about receiving his or her own dental treatment.
If your child’s first dental visit has not been scheduled, contact our office today to schedule an appointment.