Whenever your child’s first baby teeth start coming in, this can be an exciting time in both you as the parent and the child’s lives. It’s a step in the growth of your child. Now the question is when should you take your child to go to the dentist? Even though their baby teeth will begin to fall out whenever they are around 6 or 7 years old, it is still important to maintain the health of the teeth they do have, their gums, and their overall oral hygiene.
It is typically recommended that you should take your child to the dentist by their first birthday or within 6 months after their first tooth comes in. However, even though getting their first tooth is extremely exciting, visiting the dentist for the first time can be equally as nerve-racking. It is important to understand a few things prior to your child’s first visit to ease any nerves you or your child may have.
What Happens at the First Visit?
Your child’s first dental visit is typically a short and informal meeting, involving very little or no treatment. This visit can be seen more like a meet and greet between you, your child, and your dentist. You may be asked to sit in the dental chair with your child in your lap during the exam to boost their comfort level. Sometimes if the child is a little older, you will be asked to sit in the waiting room so that your child can build a relationship with their pediatric dentist.
During the visit, all of your child’s existing teeth will be checked for decay, and their bite, gums, and oral tissues will be examined for any potential problems. If needed, the dentist will clean any teeth and assess whether fluoride is needed. The dentist will then educate the parents on proper pediatric oral care, including proper gum and tooth care. The discussion of oral habits like thumb or lip sucking, the use of a pacifier, or teething will be brought up. It is important to have a list of question pertaining to oral hygiene or even proper teeth friendly foods, so the dentist can answer any and all of them in one sitting.
Making the Visit Easier
Some toddlers often have anxiety or discomfort about their upcoming dental appointments, and those fears can become worse when they actually get to the check-up. These feelings are completely normal and have been felt by most of us. It is important to remember that your child has no ill feelings about the dentist just yet, but they just fear the unknown. As a parent, you should keep your negative feelings and bias in check so that they do not affect your child’s views. Here are some more helpful tips to ease your child’s first visit:
- Use Positive Language: As mentioned previously, it is important to keep your own biases about the dentist to yourself when discussing their first visit with your child. Explain to your little one how a dentist helps them grow strong and healthy teeth. Try to convey to them how important to their health a dentist really is.
- Pretend Play: Before their visit, role-play as if you were visiting the dentist for the first time. Allow your child to pretend to be the dentist on a stuffed animal or have you play the role while they sit in their own “dental chair.” This gets them familiar with the whole process of their check-up, so they aren’t thrust into something completely unknown.
- Stay Calm: Yes, it is exciting that your child is finally growing teeth but taking your child to their first dentist visit can be just as stressful for you as the parent. It is crucial for you to remain as calm as possible to ensure that your child stays calm as well. They can tell whenever you are distressed and will react accordingly. For your child’s sake, bring them a toy or distraction to comfort them if things become too much for them.
- Cheer Them On: Be supportive and congratulate your child whenever you see an opportunity. Whenever the dentist instructs them to open wide or say “Ahhh”, let your child know that they have done a good job so that in the future, they know what proper behavior is.
After your dentist is finished with your child’s exam, they will let you know how often you should schedule them an appointment, but it is usually recommended that they go once every six months.
Your child’s first visit to the dentist is a big step in their physical and developmental growth. It allows them to get accustomed to their dentist and medical appointments altogether. While these visits can be stressful for the child and parent, there are plenty of ways to improve how smooth your child’s first check-up goes. If your child has begun growing teeth, it may be time to schedule them an appointment with their pediatric dentist in Irving. Contact Cosmetic & Family Dentistry today to schedule an appointment today!