Kids First Dentist Visit
Children are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) to have their first visit to the dentist around the time of their first birthday, or 6 months after their first tooth has emerged.
Parents must impart to their children an appreciation for the dentist from a young age to ensure that the child grows up without dental phobias. This can be especially difficult when parents have dental phobias themselves. Still, there are many ways you can make your child’s first dental visit a pleasant one.
How to prepare your child for their first dental visit
To give your child’s first dental visit the best chance of success, try some of these tips:
Provide a positive explanation – When talking about the dentist with your child, use positive language. It’s better to say, “dentists keep your teeth healthy” than to say, “dentists look for tooth decay and may have to drill your teeth if any cavities are found.”
Avoid threatening language – Pediatric dentists in Brooklyn and staff are trained to avoid using language that may scare the child such as “bleeding,” “injections,” “drills,” and “needles.” As their parent, you should avoid fear-inducing words as well.
Explain what to expect – If a child is unsure of what to expect at the Brooklyn dentist’s office, they may develop a sense of anxiety. Before you go, explain to them exactly what will happen once they get there. There are many age-appropriate books about going to the dentist that you can read in preparation for their visit:
“Elmo Visits the Dentist” – Part of the “Sesame Street” Series
“The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist” – by Stan and Jan Berenstain
“Going to the Dentist” – by Anne Civardi
“Show Me Your Smile: A Visit to the Dentist” – Part of the “Dora the Explorer” Series
Take another adult along for the visit – Infants and children may become fussy during their visit, taking away the parent’s attention from any advice the dentist may want to provide them. Having another adult present means one adult can comfort the child while the other one can discuss questions, concerns, and advice with the dentist.
Leave other children at home – If possible, leave other children at home to take away any distractions for the patient and the parent.
What will happen during the first visit?
There are several goals for the first dental visit. First, the pediatric dentist and the child need to get properly acquainted. Second, the dentist needs to monitor tooth and jaw development to get an idea of the child’s overall health history. Third, the dentist needs to evaluate the health of the existing teeth and gums. Finally, the dentist aims to answer questions and advise parents on how to implement a good oral care regimen.
The following sequence of events is typical of an initial “well baby checkup”:
- Dental staff will greet the child and parents.
- The infant/family health history will be reviewed (this may include questionnaires).
- The pediatric dentist will address parental questions and concerns.
- More questions will be asked, generally pertaining to the child’s oral habits, pacifier use, general development, tooth alignment, tooth development, and diet.
- The dentist will provide advice on good oral care, how to prevent oral injury, fluoride intake, and sippy cup use.
- The infant’s teeth will be examined. Generally, the dentist and parent sit facing each other. The infant is positioned so that his or her head is cradled in the dentist’s lap. This position allows the infant to look at the parent during the examination.
- Good brushing and flossing demonstrations will be provided.
- The state of the child’s oral health will be described in detail, and specific recommendations will be made. Recommendations usually relate to oral habits, appropriate toothpastes and toothbrushes for the child, orthodontically correct pacifiers, and diet.
- The dentist will detail which teeth may appear in the following months.
- The dentist will outline an appointment schedule and describe what will happen during the next appointment.
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s first dental visit, please contact Brooklyn Dentist.