A visit to the dentist can be a nerve inducing experience for both parent and child and it is something that many parents put off either because they aren’t sure when their child should visit or are nervous about how their small child will react in the dentist chair. Establishing a good relationship between child and dentist from an early age will encourage better dental hygiene for the child as they grow up. So when should you book your child’s first appointment? How can you prepare your child? How regularly should they visit and what are the benefits of regular dental checks for kids? Read on and find out more.
The First Visit
As a general rule, a child should make their first visit to the dentist once their first tooth has come through or by the time they turn two. Usually, the first visit isn’t for doing any work, it’s more about introducing your child to the dentist’s office, allowing them to explore various instruments and get comfortable in the chair. This is a whole new experience for a child and it’s important they become comfortable in this environment. Once your child appears at ease, the dentist will take a quick peek at their mouth. The first visit aims to familiarize the child with the dental staff and environment, introduce them to the specific language that the dental office uses and allow the dentist to do a quick examination. The dentist will also talk to you about good oral hygiene and allow you to ask any questions you may have.
How Can I Prepare My Child for Their First Dental Appointment?
When it comes to children, most dental practices will do their best to make the visit as fun and relaxed as possible. It’s only natural that some children will be apprehensive or frightened about before their first visit so there’s a few things you can do as a parent to prepare your child and an encourage a positive experience. Some great ideas include:
- Allow your child to watch you brush your teeth, and even get them involved. Let them hold the toothbrush or let them squeeze the toothpaste onto your brush.
- Encourage your child to copy you brushing your teeth with a baby toothbrush.
- When their teeth start to appear, gently wipe their teeth and gums down with a damp cloth during bath time. This will get them used to their teeth and gums being touched.
- Make brushing teeth a fun experience by singing songs.
- Talk positively about the dentist, their instruments and how great it is to keep teeth clean.
Getting your child comfortable with these situations and regularly talking about oral hygiene and dental practices in a positive way will help to reduce any fear and anxiety. The more you talk about and become excited about the appointment, the more positively they will react to their visit.
Why Are Regular Dental Check-Ups Important for Children?
From the first visit, it is recommended a child see a dentist every six months, just as an adult would. The reasons for this include:
- Early signs of tooth decay and other problems can be treated before they become bigger issues. Risks for decay and discoloration begin with a child’s first baby tooth so it is important for a dentist to keep a close eye on the oral health of children.
- Regular exposure helps to build comfort. By making a trip to the dentist a regular event, it will ensure the child becomes familiar and comfortable in the environment which will pave the way for a healthy relationship with oral hygiene for life. Regular visits will also mean each consultation will likely be quite short and trauma free as little problems will be picked up before major treatment is required.
- Check-ups give you a chance to ask the dentist any questions or talk about any concerns you may have with your child’s oral health.
Remember, home dental care is also important in ensuring a visit to the dentist is a pain-free experience. A child’s teeth should be brushed as soon as they emerge. Children should not drink sugary drinks or fall asleep with a bottle, and foods high in sugar should also be limited. This will all help prevent tooth decay and the necessary treatments that go along with it.
At Artarmon Dentists, our dental staff are highly experience when it comes to the oral health of children. If your child has just gotten their first teeth through or their second birthday is approaching, make an appointment today to see one of our dentists and we will ensure a fun and positive first dental experience.