If you’ve never taken your child to the dentist you might have a lot of questions about the process. When should your child get their first dental checkup? What will the dentist do for their first visit? How often should they go to the dentist? The process can be frightening for both a child and parent. In fact a study conducted by Delta Dental showed a significant increase in children being afraid of the dentist when their parents shared the same fear. But the dentist doesn’t have to be a scary or negative experience. We’ve created a list of tips to help you and your child with their first visit to the dentist.
- When should your child first go to the dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child has their first dental visit before their first birthday, or no later than 6 months after their first tooth emerges. If your child is already older than that and hasn’t been to the dentist don’t fret, it’s never too late to take them in, and it’s always better to prevent any dental issues than treat them after they occur. You can also take your child to a pediatric dentist rather than a general dentist, who specialize in children’s dental care.
- What happens at your child’s first dental visit?
Typically, a child’s first dental visit is short and involves little treatment. The dentist will talk to you and your child about the importance of having healthy teeth and gums and educate you on helping young children keep their mouths clean. During the exam, the dentist will examine your child’s existing teeth, gums, jaw and bite and then clean their teeth if necessary. But most importantly, the first visit allows you and your child to meet and develop a relationship with your dentist in a friendly and comfortable atmosphere.
- Introduce your child to Brushing at Home
To help your child understand the importance of a dentist, start brushing your child’s teeth and gums as soon as their first teeth break in. Educate them on the importance of healthy teeth and gums by explaining to them that microscopic bacteria (or tiny bugs) attach themselves to their teeth when they eat and if they don’t clean their teeth those bacteria will decay (or attack) their teeth. Try to involve them in the brushing process and have them brush their teeth when they are happy and alert. Don’t wait until they are tired and ornery to have them brush their teeth as they will begin to associate the process with negative emotions.
- Get them their own toothbrush and toothpaste
Purchasing your child their own toothbrush and toothpaste can often help motivate them to keep their mouths clean. There is a wide variety of branded dental products related to characters or shows which children love. Getting them their own toothbrush and toothpaste can turn brushing their teeth into an enjoyable and fun experience.
- How often should your child go to the dentist?
After their first appointment, it is recommended that you take your child to the dentist every 6 months like an adult. If your child has any special dental needs, your dentist will instruct you on how often you should bring them in.
- Flossing for Children
Unlike brushing, flossing can take quite a while before it becomes necessary. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as two teeth touch. For some, these are the first two teeth, whereas some wait up to a year after their teeth start coming in. You can also purchase floss picks or flossing tools which make flossing easier for you or your child.
Your child’s first visit to the dentist can be an enjoyable and positive experience. The earlier you start educating your child about the importance of cleaning their teeth the better. If you have further questions about helping your child maintain a healthy and clean mouth schedule an appointment with a local pediatric or general dentist.