By the time your child is a year old, it is time for their very first visit to the dentist. For various reasons, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child begin dental care at 12 months of age. Bringing your son or daughter to the dentist early in their life helps prepare for them for dentist visits later on. They will become used to having the dentist poke around in their mouth, and it will not be something to fear.
Secondly, promoting oral hygiene early on helps to prepare your child for a lifetime of good care and healthy teeth. You can even bring your baby in to see the dentist sooner than a year of age. If your child has a single tooth, he or she is ready for the dentist. The importance of visiting the dentist early cannot be overstated. Baby teeth can decay or fall out prematurely, both of which will cause problems when their permanent teeth begin to grow in.
Choosing the best dentist for your child is of paramount importance. A good pediatric dentist will have an easy way with children, as will his or her hygienists and other staff members. They will be able to answer your initial questions without hesitation, and will know at what age your child’s first dentist visit should occur. If a dentist says that your child is too young to visit, even if your child is already teething, he or she should be avoided.
When getting your child ready to see the dentist, explain everything that will happen in a careful and gentle manner. For instance, if the dentist is going to clean their teeth, do not use the word “scrape” or “pick”. The words you use have significant meaning to a child, and you want to choose words that make them calm rather than on edge.
Your child’s first visit is important and the dentist will likely be short. The dentist will want to establish rapport with the child, make them comfortable with having a stranger examine their mouth, and identify any problems that might need correcting in the future. The dentist will examine the teeth and gums for cavities and other issues, and formulate a hygiene plan to keep the child’s mouth on track and free of health problems in the future.
If needed, the dentist will order X-rays to assess the teeth and make sure there are no surprises hiding within your son or daughter’s mouth. A fluoride treatment may be applied, to support strong and healthy enamel. If you live in area without fluoridated water, you might be instructed on ways to deliver fluoride to your child at home.
Do not be alarmed if you are asked to leave the room while this happens. Some dentists prefer that parents wait outside, to help your child become more comfortable with dentistry on their own. Everyone has to get used to being alone with the dentist at some point, and you will be welcomed back into the room when it is time to discuss any treatment plans or issues.
The dentist will decide on a schedule for regular pediatric visits in the future and answer any of the questions you might have about oral care. If you have any concerns, this will be the time to discuss them. The dentist will work with you to provide the best care possible for your child’s teeth.