One of the best parts of being a parent is watching your child experience all their firsts. First smile, the first time they sleep through the night or the first time they try a lemon. All of them become a fun memory for you as a parent. Unfortunately, some children do not have the same enthusiasm for their first dentist appointment — and neither do most parents.
If you’re wondering what to expect from your child’s first dentist appointment and how to prepare, we are here to help. With the right pediatric dentist, the first visit will be fun and painless for your toddler.
When Should You Take A Child to the Dentist
The first dentist appointment for a toddler is a big deal. As long as it’s a fun experience where they feel comfortable and know what’s going on, it can set them up for a lifetime of high-quality dental health. The earlier you can get them into the dentist, the more comfortable they will be and the more excited they’ll be about taking care of their primary teeth.
We recommend that you bring your child in for their first dentist appointment as soon as their teeth start to come in. Of course, these first appointments won’t involve as many steps as you are used to for an adult dentist appointment, but it does help with catching any early signs of tooth decay or cavities. Try to make an appointment no later than your child’s first birthday.
It’s important that you find a pediatric dentist for your child to see on their first appointment. They are the most qualified at taking care of your child’s oral health, and they also have the most training in making your child feel comfortable. To get an expert level of care and comfort, find a local pediatric dentist in your area.
The Importance of Primary Teeth
Many first-time parents incorrectly assume that children’s dental health isn’t important until they start to get their adult teeth. Primary teeth are just as important to maintain, even though they fall out.
Your child’s first set of teeth help them eat as they transition to solid foods, they help develop your child’s speech and they make room for adult teeth. If your child loses their baby teeth too early due to decay or cavities, they are at risk of complications like crowding and crooked teeth when the adult teeth start growing in. The best way to prevent expensive procedures in the future is to take your child to their first dentist appointment no later than their first birthday.
Tips for a Positive First Dental Visit
It’s no secret that children of all ages hate waiting — especially if they don’t particularly like what they’re waiting for. To ensure that the first dental appointment goes smoothly, here are a few ways you can prepare.
Have Your Paperwork Organized
You’ll have to fill out a few forms before your child sees their pediatric dentist for the first time. These are likely standard forms that would be easy to fill out on the day, but take some time to do them at home. It will help speed the process along and give you the opportunity to ask questions if there is anything you’re unclear about. Making sure you feel prepared will help your child feel more comfortable about their first visit.
Bring Your Insurance
You’ll need your insurance card with every visit. Even if you’ve seen this particular pediatric dentist before with older siblings, you’ll still need to bring it for proof.
Explain The Process
Children are perceptive and always learning about the new experiences they are part of. Preparing them with information can help make them feel confident in their first dentist appointment and get them excited. Make some time to sit down with your child and explain the importance of dental hygiene in a way that they can understand. This might be a great opportunity to have an older sibling give their reassurance as well, if possible.
Schedule At the Right Time
You know your child’s schedule, when they’ll be most alert and when they might feel too tired for new things. Try to schedule their first dentist appointment during a time when they are rested and alert.
Be Open with Your Pediatric Dentist
Explain any anxieties you have with your own dentist visits as your pediatric dentist can help make sure they aren’t passed to your child. Also, take some time to discuss any relevant information about your child’s behavior or dental health concerns you have. Remember, your pediatric dentist is trained to make the dentist a comfortable experience for your child. Any information you can provide to help them is always appreciated.
Topics Your Pediatric Dentist Should Discuss
The right pediatric dentist will also give you all the information you need to help keep your child’s teeth healthy. The following are common topics that should be discussed during your first visit.
Best Dental Hygiene Practices
Your pediatric dentist is the expert in tooth care. They will know exactly how to protect your child’s teeth from cavities and other issues. If they’re not offering you advice about which toothpaste to use, what brush would work best for your child and other helpful tips, make sure to ask.
Best Habits for Healthy Primary Teeth
It’s difficult to brush an infant’s teeth, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important to still take care of them. Your pediatric dentist should be giving you tips for how to take care of your baby’s mouth, including warning signs for baby bottle tooth decay. If you’re worried about your baby’s teeth, make sure to bring it up as soon as possible. The right pediatric dentist will tell you whether there is cause for concern, plus give you the best tips for treatment.
Finger or Thumb-Sucking Habits
Finger or thumb-sucking is natural for young children. When you first see your pediatric dentist, they likely won’t see any reason to worry about your child’s habit. As the permanent teeth start to come in, however, thumb-sucking can cause alignment problems. If you’re worried about it, ask your dentist for tips on breaking the habit before it’s too late.
Proper Nutrition for Children’s Dental Health
Certain nutritional advice is common knowledge: don’t drink sugary drinks, try not to eat carbs that get stuck in your teeth and grow bacteria. But there are other foods to avoid that you might not hear from others. A pediatric dentist will provide you more in-depth examples.
Finally, make sure that your pediatric dentist gives you advice on how often to schedule appointments. It’s recommended that your child visit the dentist every 6 months to build trust and a level of comfort at the dentist as well as help maintain their dental health. If you have any questions about any part of the process, be sure to ask anyone at the office. They are there to help you and your child.