It’s important that good dental care begins early in a child’s life. According to the Australian Dental Association, your child’s first visit to the dentist should take place by the age of 12 months, or shortly after the appearance of the first baby teeth. Let’s have a look at how to prepare for this first visit to the dentist.
One year of age – this is younger than a lot of people think! Many parents don’t take their children to the dentist until well after the age of two or three, but by then many bad dental care habits might already be in place. It’s important to start your child at this very early age for a couple of reasons.
First of all, your dentist will be able to detect any preexisting problems early enough to treat them before they become too serious. Secondly, it’s essential to help you and your child create the foundation for good preventive care early on, so that it becomes a natural part of everyday life. Starting these habits when your children are super young will ensure that they develop proper oral care habits for their whole lives. It’s actually a great bit of parenting and childcare that will go a long way towards ensuring your child’s overall health.
Thirdly, it’s important that you help your children to create a positive relationship with the dentist early on in their lives. This will help them from developing any negative or fearful associations with one of their primary healthcare practitioners. Again, this simple act when your child is young will create a positive foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
What to Expect at the First Visit
Your dentist will inspect your child’s mouth and jaw for any signs of malalignment, examine whatever teeth have already grown in to make sure they are in good health, and instruct you on the basics of good oral care for your child. This will include information regarding fluoride, a healthy diet, how to brush their teeth, and general oral care information. If there are any signs of early tooth decay, your dentist will be able to spot that and advise you accordingly.
Preparing for your First Visit
It’s a good idea to get your child used to the idea of someone looking inside his or her mouth. The two of you can pretend to be dentists, taking turns to count each other’s teeth and say how healthy they look. You can read your child stories about going to the dentist or look at nice pictures.
Make an appointment when your child has had plenty of rest. If your child is already tired and cranky before you even arrive at the office, that’s just one more obstacle to a pleasant experience. Make sure you inform your dentist of any medical or psychological condition your child may have, so that he or she can be prepared. Prepare a list of questions and concerns you may have beforehand, so that you can have a thorough conversation that touches all the necessary bases.
What NOT to Do Before the First Visit
Don’t convey any fear or anxiety about the visit to your child. Don’t use phrases like, “This isn’t going to hurt,” or “There won’t be an injection.” In fact, don’t say anything at all about needles, fear, pain, drill or anything like that. You may have your own fears, but keep in mind that unless you teach your child to be afraid, he or she will not be fearful.
This is a great opportunity to let your child start out with a clean slate. Besides, this first visit is only an examination, so none of those scary things are going to happen, anyway. If your child cries a little during the visit, that’s alright, too. Very young kids often react that way the first time, but they will eventually be won over by your dentist, especially if you are vigilant about your own language and keeping a lid on your own fears.
And of course, if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s first dental visit, feel free to give us a call!