Do you have a child under the age of twelve months?
Dental experts say that a child should have their first dental appointment by the time they receive their first tooth or before their first birthday; whichever comes sooner.
You may ask yourself, where should I take them? Will my current primary dentist be a good fit for someone so young?
While there is nothing wrong necessarily with your child seeing your dentist, pediatric dentists come highly recommended. Not only because they are geared more towards a child’s needs but also because they complete two or more years of schooling than a standard practitioner for adults.
Pediatric dentists know not only the inner and outer complexities of a growing mouth, but are also equipped to balance the challenges that come with having an inexperienced and possibly terrified human sitting in their chair.
Despite a pediatric dentist’s trained expertise, children can often be traumatized by the initial experience if they are not used to their mouth being touched, or if their first visit requires treatment that might cause pain. This first visit can set the tone for the rest of their life as to oral care and how they view their bi-annual visits.
To avoid both prospects, we’ve compiled a list of ideas for you as a parent to prepare your child to be dentist ready.
Having someone else touch the inside of your mouth can feel very invasive if you’ve never experienced it before. To eliminate the nervousness and uncertainty of this sensation, have a “pretend visit” with your child. Lay them down on the couch or recline in a chair and ask them to open wide. Take the opposite end of a toothbrush and use it to count and touch each tooth. This is helpful especially if your child has missed the one year mark and is a little older – then they are able to understand what is going on.
There are also ways your dentist can help normalize the first experience. One idea is letting your child stand over you while the dentist pokes around in your mouth for a few minutes – this shows them there is no pain and there is nothing to fear. Another idea is having your child sit on your lap or lay on their back on you if they need additional comfort during the check-up or procedure.
Until this first dental visit rolls around on your calendar, there are plenty of just standard care practices at that will not only reduce the chances of early decay but get your child comfortable with their mouth. Here’s the list from Parents Magazine:
1. Stop sucking habits as early as possible.
2. Choose a soft and kid-friendly brushUse only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Too much or too little can be damaging in the long-term.
3. If your child is under 8, help them brush after breakfast and before dinner each day. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says children do not have the full and proper dexterity to brush their own teeth until age 8.
4. Avoid too much sugary drinks and snacks.
These steps and more can make sure your child is dentist-ready, and prepare them for a lifetime of oral health. If you have any further questions, you can always call our office at: 509-252-4746