A Child’s First Visit to the Dentist

It can be a bit of a shock to parents, if not downright frustrating, but dentists now recommend you schedule your child’s first visit before he or she turns one.

Before you write it off as a self-serving advice, you should know it’s recommended by the American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. There must be good reason.

Besides teaching your children positive habits regarding oral health, a lot of parents find out a lot of information about their kid’s teeth before the full set has even grown in. Yes, we understand this means asking a toddler to sit still and open their mouth, but it’s worth it in the  end to prepare you for any issues down the road.

The Benefits of Starting Early

Bring your child to the dentist sooner has many advantages, the biggest of which is teachingthe importance of regular dental visits into him or her at a very early age. Getting your child used to seeing the dentist can help erase feelings of fear and anxiety, fear which man lead to avoidance of professional dental care later on in life.

A close examination of new teeth can also help identify and treat potential tooth decay. Even if your child is subsisting only on milk and baby food—improper brushing as well as nightly breast/bottle-feeding can put your toddler’s new teeth at risk for cavities. By following closely a pediatric dentist’s advice, the specific causes behind any tooth problems can be determined, and corrected via a treatment plan tailored to your child’s individual situation.

Finally, a well-timed visit to the pediatric dentist can translate into cost savings. Staying on top of your child’s oral health and hygiene can keep expensive treatments like fillings, caps, space maintainers or even root canals at bay.

What to Expect

Your child’s first visit should be thorough, but not overly invasive. The dentist will want to review the child’s oral health & history and understand his or her eating and teething behaviors, as well as have you describe their daily dental routines.

Afterwards, the dentist team will examine your child’s teeth,  with your assistance if needed. For better access and viewing, you may be asked to help position your child’s head to rest on the dentist’s lap while his or her feet are resting on you. Depending on your child’s dental situation, sealant may be applied to the teeth for protection against cavities, followed by a demonstration of proper brushing techniques.

Once the checkup is complete, your dentist may share a treatment plan based on your child’s dental health and schedule your follow-up.

Getting Ready For Your Appointment

A little preparation goes a long way towards making your visit smooth and productive. Here are a few suggestions to make the most of your child’s first checkup:

  • Put your child to bed early the night before to ensure he or she is well-rested
  • Write down questions and concerns to discuss with the dentist
  • Pack toys  & comfort items that can occupy and/or soothe your child
  • Bring your child’s toothbrush in case your dentist has any questions
  • Many sure your insurance information is at hand to avoid a last minute issue at check-in.

Exposing your child to stories or videos that paint dentist visits in a fun, positive light can also make the experience seem less scary.

Long Term Oral Health

As good as it will feel to achieve your child’s first major dental milestone, the truth is that every subsequent checkup is just as critical to preserving his or her dental health — as is practicing good dental habits at home.

Stay one step ahead of important dental developments by scheduling frequent checkups, and don’t hesitate to call your child’s dentist for help should questions arise in between visits.