How early should my child have their first visit?
Studies have shown that children can develop cavities as early as age two, so it is generally recommended that their first appointment is booked as soon as their first tooth erupts. At the latest, your child should go for their first dental checkup by their first birthday.
Why is it important for young children to go to the dentist?
Although one year old or younger may seem like it is very early to be taking your child to the dentist, by starting early, you can catch potential problems before they turn into something more serious. Young children can still develop cavities and other oral health problems and it is important that these are taken care of so they don’t develop into more serious issues
Taking your child to the dentist when they are very young may also help to reduce anxiety and fear surrounding dental appointments. If they start to go to the dentist when they are young, children will get used to the appointments and may not be as nervous about going to their regular dental appointments.
What will happen at my child’s first dental checkup?
The very first appointment your child has with your dentist will likely be short and informal. Depending on your child’s age and comfort level, you may be asked to hold him or her during the appointment.
The dentist will then check for any decay, and take a look at your child’s gums, jaw, and bite. The dentist or hygienist may clean your child’s teeth or apply a fluoride preparation if there is a stain or high risk of cavities. This may be saved for the next appointment, though, depending on the assessment your dentist makes.
How do I prepare my child for their first dental checkup?
It is perfectly natural for your child to be nervous about their first dentist appointment. However, with some preparation and the right mindset, you can help your child feel more comfortable going into their first dental check up. Some suggestions of ways you can prepare your child for their first appointment are:
1. Role Play
Using language your child will understand, demonstrate what will happen at the dentist on a doll or stuffed animal. Tell them about the bright lights and the big dentist chair, to help them visualize what will happen when they get to the dentist. Showing them exactly what will happen will help your child more easily understand what will happen when they go to the dentist.
2. Read Books
There are tons of children’s books about going to the dentist! A few weeks before your child’s appointment, start reading some of these books to your child. Books will have pictures that show what the inside of the dentist’s office might look like and will explain what happens at the dentist in language a child can easily understand.
3. Watch Your Words
When talking to your child about the dentist and what will happen during the appointment, be careful with what words you use. If you have fears or anxiety related to the dentist, don’t let that come through, as children will pick up on this and it could make them fear the dentist as well.
Don’t use words like “shots”, “drill”, or “needle”, instead, simply tell your child the dentist is going to “count their teeth” and “check on your smile”. Using positive language like “clean, healthy, strong teeth” will help your child see the dentist in a positive light and make them more confident going into their first appointment. Make sure they know you will be with them through the entire appointment and that they have nothing to be afraid of!
4. Come Prepared
Even if you do a lot of preparation before the appointment, your child may still be nervous once they actually get to the dentist’s office. To keep your child comfortable, bring along comfort toys, like a favorite blanket or stuffed animal for them to hold in the waiting room and during the appointment.
Taking your child to the dentist does not have to be a negative experience, and with the right preparation it can be turned into a very positive experience. Make sure your child knows the importance of good dental hygiene and that the dentist only wants to help keep their smile health and strong!