This is a guest post written by Creekview Dental located in Woodbury, MN. Visit them here or give them a call (651-738-8204) to schedule your child’s first visit!
What to Expect at Your Child’s First Dental Visit
Your child’s first dental visit can be a source of fear and trepidation for parents, especially if you are not entirely comfortable with the dentist yourself. Yet it can also be a wonderful chance to build relationships and set positive expectations that will serve your child well for a lifetime. Most modern dentists recognize the importance of that first visit in setting the stage for children’s dental health, and go out of their way to make the experience pleasant. Here is what to expect:
Your child should have an initial dental checkup at around one year of age. This visit is mostly for the parents, who will learn to properly care for the baby’s emerging teeth, discuss the pros and cons of fluoride, and find out how to minimize risks to the child’s oral health. Depending on your child’s risk for cavities, six-month or annual checkups might be in order.
Of course, kids tend to remember little or nothing about these very early doctor or dentist visits. At around age 3, your toddler is ready to take some responsibility for his or her own dental health—with lots of help, of course! It is time to schedule the first “big kid” visit with the dentist. If your dentist sees kids, it makes sense for him or her to treat your child as well. Otherwise, ask for a referral to a pediatric dentist.
The dentist or hygienist will sit down with your child, an over-sized set of model teeth and a big toothbrush to demonstrate the basics of proper brushing. Other toys and puppets might be used as well. In simple, kid-friendly terms, your child will learn the basics about cavities, nutrition, and the importance of drinking a lot of water. This is also a good time for parents to ask any questions they might have about improving their child’s oral health.
Basic Cleaning and Sealing
If your child feels comfortable, the hygienist will ask her to open wide. Starting with simply counting the child’s teeth, a good hygienist will gradually move toward a basic cleaning and polishing. With parental consent, the hygienist might also seal the child’s teeth with topical fluoride.
The last part of the first visit is most kids’ favorite: reward time! Most dental offices keep a variety of small toys on hand for kids to choose from. These little prizes reward kids for being brave and well-behaved, and give them something to look forward to on each visit.
Some kids aren’t ready for an entire dentist visit on their first try. Encourage your child by staying positive and upbeat, but never force a truly scared child to continue. Most dentists and hygienists are highly understanding, and will jump straight to reward time whenever the child needs to leave. If that happens, try again in a few weeks. Over time, your child will learn to relax and build trust.