The dentist. *cue dread and doom*. (I apologize to any dentist reading this) Dentists are scary even for adults, not to mention toddlers! We all celebrate the milestone of a first tooth, but as parents, we forget that a dentist appointment should soon follow.
This blog post will go over when a baby/toddler should visit the dentist for the first time, what to expect at that visit, and how to prepare you and your child. So after you’re done celebrating that first tooth, read this blog post and then call your dentist!
When should a child visit the dentist for the first time
Every child sees their pediatrician within days of being in this world and sees them a handful of times before their first birthday. But what about the dentist? According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, it is recommended that a child go to the dentist by the age of 1 or within six months after their first tooth erupts. After the first visit to the dentist, regular check-ups should be scheduled every six months.
Why is dental care important for baby teeth?
Even though the baby teeth will eventually fall out and make way for adult teeth, regular dental visits now are important for your child’s oral health. Baby teeth are very important to your child’s health and development. They are necessary for a baby to start speaking and chewing.
They also save space for the child’s future permanent teeth. If a baby tooth is lost too early, a permanent tooth could drift into that space, making it difficult for other permanent teeth to find room when they start to come in. This can lead to crooked or crowded teeth.
Thus, good oral hygiene care is very important, even at such a young age!
Pediatric dentist vs. Regular dentist
When booking your child’s first dentist visit, you have the choice of choosing your own family dentist or a pediatric dentist. Here are some differences between the two to help guide your decision:
We chose a pediatric dentist for Remy and we have been pleased with our experiences so far. Each exam room was decorated with a certain playful theme that captivated Remy’s interest and put him at ease. All of the staff were really friendly and were very knowledgeable in how to care for kids.
What to expect when going to the dentist for the first time
The first visit to the dentist will most likely be short and involve very little treatment. This is so the dentist can be introduced to your child in a friendly manner and start the relationship off in a positive way.
They may check your little one’s existing teeth for decay or cavities and clean any teeth, if necessary. The dentist will also most likely ask you about your child’s oral habits, such as any thumb sucking, their nutrition, and developmental milestones, including teething.
They will then probably discuss oral health care basics with you and explain good oral hygiene practices for your child’s teeth and gums.
Prior to going to the dentist, be sure to write down any questions you can think of so that you can discuss near the end of the child’s dental visit.
How to prepare your child for their first dentist visit
So now that you know when the first dentist visit should be and what you can expect, how do you go about preparing you and your child for the appointment? Here are some ideas that you can implement in the weeks and days leading up to the first dentist visit:
How to care for your child’s teeth at home
Between visits to the dentist, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene habits at home for everyone, including your child! Ask your dentist how to care for those tiny chompers at home. Here is an idea on how to take care of those little teeth:
Pro Tip: Have your child choose their toothbrush when shopping so they get excited about oral hygiene! They can choose ones with their favorite color or character!
Popular Picks for Toddler Toothbrushes/Toothpaste
In conclusion, your child’s first visit to the dentist doesn’t have to be scary! As long as you prepare you and your child in advance, it can be a positive experience. In fact, Remy absolutely LOVES going to the dentist, but probably because all of the staff pay him special attention. ???? (Don’t tell him that they do this with all the kids!)
Hopefully this post will put you at ease and help set the expectations for dentist visits. Let me know in the comments below how you plan on preparing your child for their first dentist visit! Do you prefer picture books or pretend play or both?