Your Child’s First Visit to the Dentist: How to Prepare, What to Expect
The moment your little one grows his or her first tooth, as a parent, one of the things you should already think about is dental care. We, at Bayside Smiles – a family dentistry team in Melbourne – suggest you start planning for your child’s dental visit at the age of 3 – 4.
This may seem too early, but taking your child to his or her first dental visit at around such time can make a big difference in his or her lifelong dental health. Proper education on how to care for teeth should always start early. This can prevent oral health issues that typically leave long-lasting effects.
At the same time, an early dental visit provides the opportunity to appropriately address potential dental problems that have a hereditary basis. Unknown to many, a person’s genes can place him or her at a higher risk for certain oral health issues.
This basically means that specialised oral care needs to be determined right away to outwork these problems. The timely determination of the appropriate type of oral care has the ability to outwork teeth and gum issues that are due to genes, and it is helpful to establish a specialised oral care routine early on so it becomes a lifelong habit.
Getting Your Child Ready for His or Her First Dental Visit
A child’s first visit to the dentist can be quite an adventure.
The age of your child is definitely a huge factor in the experience. Your child’s unfamiliarity with the setting and the people getting close to him or her can trigger agitated or fussy behaviour.
However, with proper preparation, your child’s first official dental visit does not need to be a negative experience. All the worrisome possibilities can be addressed with the right approaches.
Your attitude and manner of educating and preparing your child can put your little one at ease so he or she can emerge from the event actually having enjoyed meeting the dental team and being examined.
To help you prepare for your child’s trip to the dental office, discussed below are what you can expect to happen:
1. A detailed interview
Much of the visit will be focused on getting all the information about how your child cut his or her first tooth. You will need to share how the whole experience went down, such as the discomfort your child suffered from, any changes in behaviour, and other personal observations you may have.
2. A question and answer portion
You have the opportunity to ask the dentist or the entire dental team about your concerns regarding your little one’s oral health. At the same time, you will need to answer queries about your own dental health.
As mentioned earlier, there are oral issues that have a hereditary basis. Therefore, expect a probe into the condition of your teeth and gums as well.
3. Presentation of children’s oral concerns
The oral concerns your dentist will discuss include the following:
- How your child’s teeth will develop and come together to form his or her bite
- The teething experience (it is not the same for every tooth).
- The condition of the soft tissues in your child’s mouth.
- Your child’s oral activities such as being breastfed, thumb-sucking, and using a pacifier or binky.
- The risk of cavities.
4. Oral examination
An oral examination will be performed to establish the condition of your child’s mouth and oral health. This is a big part of the dental visit that can get a little out of control if your young one is not prepared well.
A cleaning treatment may be necessary if your little one already has stains on his or her teeth. A fluoride treatment may also follow to prevent future damage to your child’s teeth.
6. Oral care education
Your chosen dental professional will discuss how you, the parent, can best take care of your child’s teeth.
Not only that, we discuss diet and nutrition as well because caring for the teeth does not just involve hygiene, it includes overall health as well.
Some Pointers Before the Visit
Now that you have a clear idea of what to expect, we have below the tips on how you can help ensure a positive first dental visit for your little one:
Try a “little” oral examination for your child — practise opening his or her mouth open wide.
This will familiarise him or her with the dentist’s instruction and movement. When you do this exercise, make sure to follow up with a praise or an affectionate gesture that your child enjoys.
Rewarding him or her this way will reinforce compliance and help your child feel more at ease.
2. Play dentist with your little one
Pretend play always helps in introducing the idea of going to the dentist.
Take turns acting as the dentist or patient with your child. Injecting a fun element to an upcoming experience can make your child excited about it instead of dreading it.
3. Bring a favourite item or toy to the dental clinic
Ensuring comfort is one of the keys to a good first-time visit to the dentist.
One of the best things you can do to put your little patient at ease is to let your child bring an item he or she loves and which also gives him or her a sense of comfort. This can be a security blanket or a plush toy he or she goes to bed with.
It may likewise help to conclude the day with a fun activity for your child. Say, after a successful visit to the dental office, bring him or her to the playground or pick out a reward at his or her favourite store or shop for good behaviour.
Indeed, your child’s first trip to the dentist requires adequate preparation.
By providing you with information on what to expect at the clinic on his or her first dental appointment, and tips on how to ease your child into the experience, this important event can certainly be a breeze for both of you.
For more information on children’s oral health, check back here with us.
Our children’s dentistry team and the whole Bayside Smiles family regularly post content to answer questions and address all kinds of dental health concerns of individuals and families.