Did you know that the first dental visit is recommended to take place by the age of one?Unfortunately however, on average children have their first visit at the age of four. First dental visits and regular care from a dentist are important factors in looking after the health of your child’s teeth and mouth.
The best time to book your baby in for their first dental visit is when their first tooth becomes visible or when they reach 12 months of age, whichever one comes first. While you might think it’s not necessary to book an appointment until your baby has a full set of teeth — like around age three — the earlier your child visits the dentist the better. Usually your child’s first visit to the dentist will involve possible discussions about the following:
-Bite (how your children’s teeth come together)
-Habits such as thumb sucking
-The risk of decay and how to prevent it
-Prevention of traumatic injury to your child’s mouth
Here are some tips to help plan for your kid's dental visit:
Talk Positively About What Will Happen at the Appointment
Studies have shown that parents can pass their dental anxiety on to their children. So, even if you aren’t a huge fan of the dentist, don’t let it show in front of your child.
If your child is afraid of the dentist and they’re feeling anxious about their first dental visit, let them know it’s completely normal to be nervous about something they haven’t done before and offer plenty of positive reinforcement by praising them for being brave. Keep it simple and make sure you don’t include too many details. Tell them the dentist will count their teeth and make sure their teeth are healthy. They will also meet a dental assistant who will “tickle” their teeth with a special toothbrush. As pediatric dentists, we’ve seen it all, so if your child isn’t compliant or cries at the visit, it’s completely fine and you shouldn’t stress about it. It happens and every visit gets easier. Instead of focusing on what went wrong, draw attention to everything that went right. Tell them how proud you are about the positive aspects of the appointment and think up ways to overcome the negative things together.
Role Play With Your Child
Role-playing can also help your child feel at ease. Take some time before their appointment to create a make-believe dental office. Pick a favorite stuffed animal and act out what will happen at the dentist. Or you can 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.
Read a Few Books About Going to the Dentist
Books can be incredibly helpful in getting a child ready for all sorts of life events, including a visit to the dentist. When kids see their favorite characters happily visiting the dentist, it helps put a positive spin on it. It can be hard to choose from all the wonderful books out there on the topic so here are a few to get you started:
The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss
The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Brush Brush Brush by Alicia Padron
Show Me Your Smile! A Visit to the Dentist (Dora the Explorer)
Dentist Trip (Peppa Pig)
Elmo Visits the Dentist by P.J. Shaw
Bring a Friend
If your child has a favorite stuffed animal or toy, bring it with you to the dentist appointment. A familiar, beloved friend will help them feel safe and secure. And there may be time to check the stuffed animal’s teeth too!
Schedule the Appointment for the Right Time
Schedule your child’s dentist appointment at a time when they’re typically in a good mood. Young children tend to do their best in the morning when they are fresh and full of energy. It’s better to avoid scheduling appointments late in the day or close to nap times when children can be groggy or cranky.
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 chair. If you feel like your child needs a little more encouragement or you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out and we’ll be more than happy to give you some more pointers.