5 Tips for Taking your Child to the Dentist for the First Time
Children should start visiting a dentist when their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday. Involving the support of a pediatric dentist early on promotes good oral health and keeps tooth decay at bay. It’s also a good way to inculcate healthy oral practices at a young age. When children develop habits during their formative years, they will most likely stick with them as they grow up.
Meanwhile, a child’s first dental visit helps educate parents on the proper ways of cleaning their child’s tooth and the recommended fluoride intake based on the child’s age.
Prior to your child’s first trip to the dentist’s office, you need to take the necessary steps to ensure that your child will get the best quality of care and to lessen the dread or anxiety that you child may feel about the appointment. Here are some tips to help you out.
1. Choose the right dentist.
Recognizing the importance of child oral health is a good start, the next step is finding the right dentist for your child— but it can be quite challenging.
What you can do is ask for recommendations from your loved ones and your child’s pediatrician. Their referrals can give you good leads that will help you begin your search on the right track. Meanwhile, you can also check within your community and see if there are any dental clinics that cater to children.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you can do an ocular inspection of the dental clinics. Take note of the atmosphere in the dentist’s office. Is it child-friendly? Are the staff accommodating and non-threatening? In addition, inquire about their knowledge and experience in handling young patients.
2. Prepare your child for the visit.
Set an appointment with the dentist and ask what you should expect on the visit, so that you can prepare your child accordingly.
The thought of going to the dentist is unappealing to most children. In most cases, you can’t expect them to sit still and be comfortable with the dentist outright. However, you can gradually prepare them. Tell them why the visit is necessary and soothe them with assuring words to lessen their anxiety. In case your child refuses to cooperate or throws a tantrum, have a plan B ready. If he or she is really uncomfortable, you might need to reschedule the appointment.
3. Know what to expect.
A child’s first dental visit is about laying the groundwork for good oral health.
During the first dental visit of your child, the dentist will conduct an evaluation of your child’s teeth, gums, jaw, bite, and oral tissues to see if there are any problematic areas that need attention. Depending on the assessment, a gentle cleaning or x-ray may be recommended.
The dentist will also discuss your role in your child’s oral health. He or she will talk about your child’s oral development, risk factors to cavities, tooth decay, and other oral problems, and ways on how you can take care of your child’s teeth at home.
To make sure that you get all the information you need, you can prepare a set of questions prior to the appointment.
4. Take note of other important details.
Determine when your child’s next dental appointment will be. Just like adults, children need to visit the dentist twice a year. If there were no problems with your child’s oral health, the next consultation would most likely be scheduled six months after the first visit.
Meanwhile, ask the dentist how to contact them during emergencies. In case something happens that require urgent dental care, knowing how to get in touch with them will come in handy.
5. Set a good example at home.
Children usually imitate the habits that they see in their parents. So start with yourself and practice good oral hygiene, and your children will follow suit.
When good oral habits are developed at a young age, there’s little to no chance that a person will depart from them. So start your children young and take them to the dentist early on. Not only will it keep their pearly whites intact, it will also maintain their confidence as they grow up.