One of the most common questions parents ask us is when their child should have their first dental visit. With so many exciting firsts in your baby’s life, it can be easy to miss one of the most important firsts: The arrival of their baby teeth. With the arrival of your baby’s first teeth, you can provide them with a lifetime of dental health by introducing them to our dental team early. Here are our tips to prepare your child for their first dental appointment.
Baby’s First Tooth
Once your baby’s first teeth are visible, this is the perfect time to start planning their first dental exam. Your child should be seen by the age of one, or within six months of their first tooth. The reason this is the first step to lifelong oral health is that it prevents your child from forming bad oral hygiene habits. If a child is introduced to the dental office early, they will be taught from an early age how to develop proper dental habits, from brushing and flossing to the importance of regular dental checkups. As well we can better identify potential problems with regular oral exams to look for growth issues that might affect their dental health later in life.
Find the Right Dentist
Your first step in preparing for your child’s first dental appointment is finding a dental office that specializes in pediatric or family dental care. Most parents assume it is best to take their children to their own dentist, however pediatric dental care is always preferred for children. Experience with children will provide your child with a friendlier environment where they will feel welcome. Our dental office is designed for age-appropriate care for the entire family, offering a comfortable, fun environment that will encourage a healthy relationship and help avoid fears that can sometimes be associated with dental appointments.
Education About Teeth
Children develop a natural curiosity about their bodies at a young age. They enjoy learning about what they can do, providing the perfect opportunity for you to talk about their teeth and mouth. Babies also love learning and listening, and you can start by teaching them about their mouth and showing them how important healthy oral hygiene is by brushing and flossing in front of them. You can have older siblings join in to show them everyone does it. Talk to them about what they are doing and play little games with them to show them where their teeth and tongue are.
You can also plan fun activities, read books, and even point out the mouth and teeth of some of their favourite toys such as a dinosaur. There are also books you can find about dental visits and brushing their teeth that will help in the learning process. In fact, every time you read a book that mentions brushing teeth at bedtime, or even if you see people brushing on television, you can point it out to them.
Prepare Your Questions
We encourage parents to ask questions about their child’s oral health and suggest you write down any questions you might have. These questions can include teething issues, age-appropriate hygiene routines, expected dental milestones, and what to do if your child injures their mouth.
What to Expect in the First Visit
When you arrive at our office, our team will make sure you all feel very welcome and at ease. We will work with your child in a manner that suits them, whether they are shy or more outgoing. They will get to meet our team who are friendly and fun, so your child develops positive feelings about their dental visit.
You can join us in the exam room where we will discuss your child’s overall health and begin a history for them. We can answer any questions you might have and, depending on your child’s age, they might try sitting in the dental chair to get familiar with it. Smaller children can sit on your lap during the initial exam.
Again, much will depend on the age of your child. Older children will have a full exam and even potentially a teeth cleaning. We will also often speak to your children about some of the instruments and equipment in the room to make them feel comfortable with the set-up and environment. We will often show them how some of the tools work, so they become accustomed to the sounds of the dental office. Older children are encouraged to ask questions.
We also provide oral hygiene instructions to help ensure your child develops proper dental care habits. By the age of three, your child will receive regular teeth cleaning and polishing at their appointments.
Continuing Dental Care
At the end of your first appointment, we will plan out a schedule for regular checkups and you can book their follow-up appointment. We recommend one to two visits per year, so we can keep track of your child’s progress and watch for signs of cavities and decay.
Special attention for children’s dental health includes helping your child wean themselves from thumb and pacifier sucking to avoid problems with tooth growth. Now is also the time to start healthy eating habits by limiting sugary snacks and drinks, especially soda and hard candy. These foods will increase the chance of tooth decay and cavities.
As soon as your child’s first teeth are visible you can use a child’s soft-bristled toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste to help them brush their teeth twice a day for about two minutes. As they get older, they can begin the process on their own, and paying close attention to how they brush will ensure they are brushing properly. We will also continue to provide oral hygiene instructions at their dental appointments to help them develop proper habits for life.