Going to the dentist for the first time does not have to be scary or stressful for your child. With the right attitude, preparation, and a great dental practice to go to, you can lay the groundwork for your son or daughter for a lifetime of good hygiene and pleasant visits to the dentist.
It’s important to remember that young children do not have a preconceived notion of the dental office as a scary place. They will pick up cues about what to expect from their parents, siblings, and others around them. Be positive, and set the expectation that the dental visit will be an enjoyable experience and a good learning opportunity. Try not to project your own feelings about going to the dentist to your child. You can let your child know that everyone – including you! – visits the dentist to help keep their teeth and gums clean and healthy.
Before the appointment, you should tell your child what will happen, in broad terms. You can even practice opening your mouths wide in preparation for the dentist to be able to count teeth and check on dental progress.
What to Expect
The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that babies be seen by a dentist after the first primary tooth comes in, or at least before their first birthday. This is because once teeth come in, tooth decay is possible. Even so, this early visit is more for parents to learn about how to care for their child’s teeth and what to expect as the baby teeth come in. It is unlikely your child will remember this visit.
By about age 3, toddlers should have a mouth full of primary teeth. At this point, the health and progress of their dental development should be regularly monitored and evaluated by a dentist and hygienist. A dentist will examine the child’s jaw, teeth and mouth, and can advise parents on developmental milestones; diet and fluoride needs; oral habits such as teething, pacifier use or thumb-sucking; as well as how to properly clean the teeth.
Making it Fun
Because toddlers are often afraid of new or different situations and people, many pediatric or family dental practices will plan a fun first visit for your child, so that he or she can get a feel for the office and the dental chair. This may include oversized teeth and jaw anatomy models that kids can handle, in an inviting and kid-friendly environment.
As the parent, you will always be able to stay with their child during an exam to offer emotional support and a friendly face. In some instances, you may be able to sit in the dental chair with your child in your lap as the dentist examines your child.
To ensure the best possible experience, be sure to schedule an appointment for a time when your child is likely to be well-rested and cooperative.
Patients of all ages in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area trust Dr. Steven Hagerman for his friendly and caring dentistry. To schedule your little guy or gal’s first checkup, or for any dental need, call (651) 646-2392 for an appointment today.