Diving into the top tips and tricks for knowing when the time is right for your kids first dental appointment. How to know when your kid should see the dentist.
A child’s first dental appointment can sneak up on you. One moment you’re holding them in your arms, with toothless grins, and the next, they have baby teeth sprouting through their gums.
But are you prepared for your baby’s first dental visit? Do you know when to make the appointment and what to ask the dentist? And how do you know which dentist to choose?
We will explore all of these questions in this article so you can feel comfortable and confident about taking your child to the dentist for the first time!
When Should You Go?
So, when should a child go to the dentist? Most medical professionals agree that you should schedule your child’s first dental appointment between 6 months and a year old.
However, if your child starts cutting teeth before then, it’s perfectly acceptable to schedule an appointment then. One of the reasons for this is because once your child starts getting teeth, they’re susceptible to cavities.
Prepare Your Child…And You!
Going anywhere new, especially to a doctor’s office, will likely be scary for your child. There are ways to prepare your child and help them feel comfortable.
Discuss with your child where you’re going and why. Tell them dental visits are a good thing and positively paint the dental office. You could even role-play, taking turns being the dentist and the patient by looking in each other’s mouths, counting teeth, or practice sitting still in a chair.
Avoid talking about anything negative, like tools or cavities. You can even check out books from the library on going to the dentist, or watch videos. Keep all the language as positive as possible!
Don’t forget about your questions and concerns! If this is your child’s first visit, write a list of questions and other things to discuss with your dentist. These might include things like pacifiers, finger sucking, hygiene, frequency of cutting teeth, and so forth.
If you have any particular concerns, don’t forget to voice them.
Pediatric Dentist vs. General Dentist
Perhaps your curious if your child needs to see a pediatric dentist or a general dentist. What’s the difference and does it matter?
A pediatric dentist specializes in seeing only children, typically through the age of 18, or even longer, depending on the child’s needs. Pediatric dentists have an additional two years of training with children to fully understand child behavior, growth, and any special needs your child might have.
While a general dentist can be a fine fit for families with children, a pediatric dentist has special training and education to address your child’s needs more accurately.
First Appointment Basics
So what should you expect at your child’s first appointment? Let’s take a look!
Remember, it’s best to schedule your child’s appointment in the morning (if you can) and not around the afternoon or naptime. The appointment will go much smoother if your child is not cranky before or after naptime!
If there is new patient paperwork that needs to be completed, try filling it out ahead of time. This will allow the appointment to go quickly, so you can get your toddler in and out without much trouble.
Be sure to help your child brush their teeth before the visit and withhold any eating until after the appointment is over.
Visiting The Dentist
With adults, dental visits can be lengthy and include cleanings. Your child’s first visit is likely to be uneventful. All dentists will conduct appointments differently, but the majority of visits will include the following activities.
The dentist will ask your child to sit in the dental chair (or on your lap!) Then, they will proceed to inspect your child’s growing jaw, gums, and any teeth that are emerging. They might ask you some questions about your child’s oral hygiene, and then allow you to ask them questions as well.
Make sure you’ve prepared your questions!
While sometimes dentists will take x-rays of your child’s teeth, it’s unlikely this will happen at such a young age. Most dentists will start x-rays at around 4 or 5 years old.
After the initial check-up, your dentist may or may not clean your toddler’s teeth. Your child may squirm, but that’s usually expected! You and the dentist can work out a plan to keep your child still and engaged.
Once the appointment is over the dentist will review with you their findings, and give you some tips concerning their hygiene, scheduling more check-ups, and other things they think are important.
Oral Hygiene Tips For Toddlers
Just because your toddler may not have a lot of teeth doesn’t mean that you can neglect their oral hygiene. Now is the most important time to start practicing good oral hygiene habits.
Plaque build-up can happen even without any teeth. So start by brushing your child’s teeth and gums twice a day for at least two minutes using a soft bristle toothbrush. While you can even allow them to ‘brush’ to get their mouth clean, you should be brushing it for them to make sure their gums stay clean.
Once they get the hang of brushing, you can supervise.
First Dental Visit
Your child’s first dental appointment can go extremely smoothly with a little preparation and planning. Once you know what to expect and choose a dentist that’s right for you, you can feel confident that your child will get the best care possible.
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