It seemed like just yesterday when your baby Badger fan was born, but now it’s almost time for his first dental appointment! While the American Dental Association recommends that a child visit a dentist by one year of age, it’s never too late to get your child started on proper dental care. If you’ve been worrying “how can I prepare my child for his first dental appointment?”, here are some tips on how to make that first visit go smoothly.
How can I prepare my child for his first dental appointment?
- Time It Right
- Fill Him In
- Act It Out
- Watch a Video
- During the Appointment
Time It Right
Parents know there’s a big difference between how a rested child takes on the day versus a tired one. Consider choosing a morning appointment for your child when he’s rested and at his best. Making sure your child gets plenty of rest the night before will also help get the day off on the right foot.
Avoid scheduling appointments during naptime, at the end of the day, or following travel.
Fill Him In
Another way to prepare your child is to let him know what he can expect during the appointment. Talk to preschoolers and older children about who dentists are, what they do, and why it’s important they care for our teeth. Let him know that dentists have helpers, the hygienists, who help keep our teeth clean.
Encourage your child to be cooperative so that the dental team can take good care of his teeth. You can mention that he will get a new toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss, which may be a fun prize he’ll look forward to receiving.
Act It Out
Your child might also feel more prepared if you spend a little time role playing what will happen at the dentist’s office. You can pretend to be the dentist. Have your child practice opening wide, saying “ah,” showing his teeth, and moving his tongue from side to side. You can count his teeth while explaining that you’re looking to see how healthy his teeth are. Getting used to feeling his teeth get touched and following vocal cues can help make the appointment go more smoothly.
Watch a Video
Seeing an example of what happens at the dentist may also help relieve some fears. There are many videos online that walk you and your child through the steps of a dental visit. You look for a video specific to your child’s age, from infancy through grade school.
During the Appointment
At a child’s first visit, an exam of the teeth, gums, bite, and jaw may be conducted. Your child might also have a gentle cleaning done. Babies and toddlers can sit in their parents’ laps for these exams and cleanings. Older children will need to sit in the dentist’s chair.
If there are signs of decay, an x-ray may need to be taken. However, x-rays usually aren’t used on young children unless absolutely necessary.
The dentist will address any concerns you may have and will advise on how to properly care for your child’s teeth or how to help your child care for his own teeth, depending on his age. Your dentist may also give you guidance on how to help your child break bad oral habits.
If you’d like to schedule your child’s first dental visit, please contact us today. Affiliated Dentists offers pediatric dentistry in Madison, Wisconsin.
How Can I Prepare My Child for His First Dentist Appointment? brought to you by Dr. Mark Gustavson