How to Prepare Your Child for Their First Visit to the Dentist
Is it about time to take your child on their first visit to the dentist? Prepare for a painless visit with these tips and recommendations!
When Should I Take My Child on Their First Visit to the Dentist?
Experts recommend that you take your child to the dentist six months after their first tooth comes in or after several teeth have emerged. This typically occurs between six and twelve months old or before your child’s first birthday. Some parents are surprised at this recommendation. Taking your child to the dentist early has the following benefits:
- Your child will get used to visiting the dentist. This can get harder as they get older.
- You will learn ways to care for your child’s teeth now that set them up for a healthy future.
- Your dentist will have the opportunity to spot and correct early signs of dental issues.
Just like you, your child should visit the dentist every six months after their first visit.
How Can I Prepare My Child for Their First Visit to the Dentist?
1. Talk About It
Using positive words and phrases, tell your child about their upcoming visit and explain what is going to happen. Maintain an upbeat attitude and avoid phrases like, “it won’t hurt,” which will only introduce the idea of pain and make your child anxious. Instead, choose phrases like, “the dentist will look at your teeth so you can have a healthy smile.” As much as possible, paint a picture of the dentist as a routine visit that can be a fun, exciting change of pace!
You may also be able to find a helpful picture book about going to the dentist at your local book store.
2. Take Them on Your Next Visit
If you do not struggle with anxiety about going to the dentist yourself, you may want to consider bringing your child along to show them how a confident, cool, calm, and collected adult handles a visit to the dentist. Your child takes their cues from you, so this is a great way to reinforce your positive words with positive actions!
3. Practice Teeth Exams
To prepare your child for the dentist examining their mouth, give them a few teeth exams ahead of time yourself! You can “play” dentist with your child and teach them how to play it with their stuffed animals or dolls too.
4. Schedule for a Good Mood
You know your child and the times of day that are ideal for a positive mood. Be sure to schedule your child’s first dentist appointment during a good time, and avoid feeding your child sugar or caffeine prior to their appointment.
5. Promise a Treat
There is nothing like a promised reward to keep a child positive during their visit to the dentist! Make plans with your child to go to the park, get a new toy, or eat a favorite snack after the appointment, just make sure the snack isn’t too sweet.
What Should I Expect at My Child’s First Visit to the Dentist?
The dentist will examine your child’s teeth and perform some gentle cleaning if needed. They will also provide you with advice for home cleaning and best practices for use of baby bottles and pacifiers. If your child’s baby teeth appear to be stuck and affecting their adult teeth, the dentist may elect to take x-rays, but these are typically not recommended for young children.
Ready to schedule your child’s first visit to the dentist? Give us a call at (907) 376-3884 to book their appointment.