What now? While it might seem early, as long as your child has teeth, s/he needs to be seeing the dentist every six months.
We often think of the dentist as someone you see after something has gone wrong. But your dentist has a tremendous role in making sure your child’s face, teeth, mouth, throat, and airway are all developing properly.
By the end of this article, you’ll know what to expect and what to ask your dentist at your child’s first dentist appointment.
Choose the Right Dentist
If you don’t like seeing the dentist today, it is very likely due to the experience you had at the dentist as a child.
Early positive experiences at the dentist are a gift that you can give your child that they will carry with them into adulthood. Adults who had a dentist they loved as a child are adults who take care of their teeth, enjoy optimal oral health, and avoid a lifetime of chronic pain and expensive dental procedures.
Choose a dentist who makes your child feel comfortable and safe. The right dentist will work to make you and your child feel comfortable throughout the visit. The entire staff should provide a relaxed, non-threatening environment for your child.
Before Your Child’s First Dentist Visit
The most successful first dentist visits in my experience are the ones without any surprises. Talk to the office in advance, so you know what to expect and can prepare your child for the visit. Will there be stickers for your child afterward? Is there an iPad to play with in the office? Are there great books in the waiting room? Try to build that enthusiasm for your child.
Don’t forget any medical records and to bring a complete medical history.
Schedule the appointment for a morning, when your child is alert and less likely to be close to naptime.
What to Expect at Your Child’s First Dentist Visit
Take it slow and feel free to reschedule. If your child is frightened, uncomfortable or non-cooperative, the time might not be right. A child shouldn’t be forced into it; this can build a lifetime of resentment and fear of the dentist. Be patient and reassuring.
Schedule your appointment before your child’s. Children love to watch their parents’ get their teeth cleaned or get an exam. Your dentist can enlist your child’s help by holding a mirror to show you your teeth.
If your child is under three years old, you might sit in the dental chair and hold your child during the exam.
A first dentist appointment for a child that’s only one year old might last 15 to 30 minutes.
Expect your dentist to examine your child’s teeth, jaw, bite, gums, and oral tissues.
If appropriate, your dentist or hygienist might do a teeth cleaning to remove plaque or tartar buildup on the new teeth.
What to Ask During Your Child’s First Dentist Visit: A Checklist
- Come prepared to talk to your dentist about whether your child is breathing through the nose, mouth, or both. Nasal breathing is essential to your child’s proper development. Mouth breathing can impact a great deal about your child’s health, appearance, and quality of life. A dentist, along with an ENT physician, can help treat mouth breathing to minimize the damaging effects.
- Ask your dentist to demonstrate how you should be brushing and flossing your child’s teeth at home.
- Talk to your dentist about what your child eats on a daily basis. Proper nutrition not only protects your child from developing cavities, but also promotes the teeth to come in straight and the face and oral cavity to develop properly. Children with good nutrition have faces that are more attractive because they develop properly. They also sleep better because the oral cavity and back of the throat all develop as they should, allowing your child to breathe without interruptions while sleeping.
- Talk to your dentist about whether you’re breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or using a sippy cup. When a child sucks on anything other than a mother’s nipple, the development of the mouth, swallow reflex, and oral cavity are all impacted. Work can be done by the dentist or orthodontist to reverse or control this altered development.
So, now I want to hear: what are your tips for a child’s first dentist visit?
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