The child’s first dental visit – How to prepare your child and yourself

The child’s first dental visit

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a child which is one year old to be shown to a dentist. By one year most children would have got their lower and upper two incisors, and upper and lower two lateral incisors erupted. The first molars are probably going to erupt and that is when your child would probably celebrate its first birthday. It is at this stage your child is recommended to be taken to a dentist.

Why take a child to your dentist by one year?

Many might wonder why so early? Every child is unique and so is their jaw on which the teeth are placed. The primary reason to check so early is to check your child’s oral health. It is also an opportunity to find out if the teeth are emerging normal and if there is any specific need for the child. It is also an opportunity to get to hear few recommendations from the dentist which will help the child maintain proper oral hygiene.

Preparing the child for the dental visit

  1. Many toys with dentist theme are available online and in brick and mortar play stores. You can get one of those to your child and make them familiar with dentistry objects like flashlights, rinsing cups, toothbrushes, etc., that are used at the dental office.
  2. You can ask your child to check the teeth of the stuffed toys. This can instill a sense of oral hygiene at a much younger age. You can tell your child to use the dentist toy tools and check the dental condition of the stuffed toy’s teeth. This can create a positive engagement in the mind of the child.
  3. Many cartoon shows of their favorite cartoon characters visiting the dentist are available. They are funny to watch and at the same time give a positive impression on the impending dental visit.
  4. While the child is adequately prepared, you can slowly tell the child that you are meeting a dentist uncle or aunty. Along, you can bring their favorite toy so that the child is mentally prepared and is at ease.

Preparing yourself for the child’s dental visit

  1. Keep information on the health condition of the child with you. You need to tell in advance about any medications the child is under. If need be, keep the contact information of the pediatrician ready with you while you and your child visit the dentist.
  2. You may have to tell the feeding pattern and eating pattern of your child. You can tell the dentist if they are having the thumb sucking habit. You can also tell if they are having the pacifier habit.
  3. If you have anxiety yourself in visiting the dentist, you should take adequate care not to pass on your anxiety to your child. If you actually have extreme anxiety, you may want to pacify yourself first or take someone along who can balance things and can take care of your child.
  4. Never ever create any kind of negativity like, “the dentist aunty would remove your teeth”, “the dentist uncle would administer an injection”, etc., while you talk to your child. This has the potential to create a negative impression and can possibly result in your child developing a fear or hate.

During the dental visit – What to expect?

  1. The dentist would check and tell you how clean the teeth and the general oral region are
  2. If your dentist thinks that the child has a risk of developing cavities, the dentist might recommend applying fluoride and will do so.
  3. Your dentist might tell you how the diet can be changed or modified to suit the child’s oral health and reduce the risk of dental cavities in the baby teeth.
  4. Your dentist would give you general tips on safeguarding oral hygiene,oral hygiene practices and ways to break the pacifier habit if the child has it.
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