42% of children between 2 and 11 years old have at least one cavity. Early dental care is essential for reducing the risk of tooth decay and oral diseases.
It helps for parents to prepare their young ones for their first trip to the dentist. This makes for a smoother and less stressful visit for both the child and parent.
Here are a few tips for making your child’s first dental visit a success whether you are in the Alpharetta, GA area or anywhere else.
Determine the Best Age to Visit the Dentist
It’s common for new parents to wonder when do babies go to the dentist? It’s best for children to make their first visit to the dentist between 6 and 12 months old.
This is most often when you notice their first tooth beginning to erupt through the gums. Most experts recommend the visit happen before they turn one. This is often the best plan of action compared to other first dentist visit age recommendations.
Visiting the dentist at this age establishes proper dental care habits. It also ensures the child has no oral health concerns.
Infant dentistry is important to help avoid issues like baby bottle tooth decay. Parents learn the right way to clean a child’s mouth as well. They also gain more information on pacifier habits, thumb-sucking, and teething.
Young children will receive a cleaning to remove any plaque build-up from baby teeth. Toddlers will learn proper brushing and flossing habits to help prevent cavities. Dentists also inform parents about fluoride needs and the best foods for a healthy smile.
Visiting the dentist early on makes the process more familiar to a child. They will be less likely to experience anxiety that older children sometimes have. From here, children should go on to have regular checkups every 6 months.
Choose the Best Dentist for Your Needs
A children’s dentist or family dentist is often best for a younger patient’s needs. This ensures they have the proper experience to oversee infant and toddler patients.
These dentists also have a good bedside manner and help to reduce any anxiety about a first-time visit. Be sure you and your child are comfortable with the dentist you choose. They should be able to answer any questions or concerns you may have about the visit.
It can be helpful to first schedule an initial consultation to visit the office. Here you can determine that it is a safe, clean, and comfortable environment for your child. Meet with the staff and dentist to get a feel for their practice before booking an appointment.
Schedule an Appointment at the Right Time
Appointment timing is an important tip when it comes to the first dental visit. The first visit often lasts about 30 minutes and includes an exam and a cleaning.
It’s best not to schedule the appointment during the child’s naptime or right before lunch. Booking an appointment after breakfast ensures the child is well fed and rested. This way, they are less likely to become overwhelmed or cranky during the exam.
Make Sure Your Child Is Well-Informed
Do your best to communicate with your child about what to expect during their first dental visit. Explain why dental health is so important and what a dentist does. Be sure to use positive words and facial expressions when describing the dentist.
This helps children to understand and eases their anxiety. It’s also a good idea to build up an interest in oral cleaning habits.
A role-playing technique is a great tip for preparing your child for their first visit. Use child dentist toys and stuffed animals to act out a trip to the dentist.
There are many children’s books you can read that discuss the dentist as well. Watching shows like Sesame Street will educate them further.
Do your best to ease the child’s anxieties before the appointment. Let your child know you will be with them the entire time and there is nothing to worry about.
Arrive at the Appointment Prepared
Be prepared to have all your child’s information on hand to fill out paperwork. This includes their medical history and pediatrician’s contact information.
Many offices will allow you to submit this paperwork via email beforehand. This cuts down on waiting time for the child to get in to see the dentist.
It also helps to bring a bag of tricks to the first dentist visit. Pack some fun activities for the child to play with while sitting in the waiting room.
Allowing them to color or play with books will keep boredom at bay. You can also bring a comforting blanket or stuffed toy for the child to hold during the appointment.
Another tip is to pay attention to your own emotions during the visit. Children can pick up on your stress or unease. So, be sure to smile and give assurances before and during the visit.
Rewarding your child after the appointment will also make for a pleasant attitude. Let them know they will receive a sticker or balloon for their great behavior. The dentist will likely give them a child-friendly toothbrush to take home as well.
Preparing for Your Child’s First Dental Visit
A child’s first dental visit doesn’t have to be met with fear or uncertainty. These tips will help you to have a pleasant experience when taking your child to the dentist.
This first visit will teach you more about proper dental care habits for young ones. Parents will also learn the best preventative measures for protecting a child’s teeth.
So, ready to book your child’s first dental appointment? Get in touch with Golsen Family Dentistry to learn more about scheduling a visit.