So your little one has their first tooth and you’re looking for how to prepare for their first dental visit. This is such a fun and exciting time in your child’s life, but as a parent, we come with our own feelings about the dentist. Helping your little one form a positive relationship with the dentist will encourage them to maintain their teeth and promote a healthy lifestyle as they grow.
When to make your first dental visit:
While there is no right or wrong answer for this, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends that once your child has their first primary tooth erupt, that it’s time to make his/her first dental appointment. You may think that’s a little early but there are a few reasons that this is recommended. First, forming a relationship with the dentist at a young age and getting your child used to a dental routine is a great step to lifelong good oral health habits. Second, as your child grows and develops, they are more likely to have some dental trauma, especially when learning to walk, run, bike etc. It is always a good idea to have a doctor that you can call when your child has an accident. If not, you could be stressed trying to call an office and find someone to see your child during your time of need. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to have your child in early so that we can answer any questions you may have about diet, nutrition, proper tooth care and tips and tricks to get your little one to love tooth brushing.
How to prepare for your first office visit
So you searched all your local facebook groups for recommendations, you checked the google reviews, you found the office that is perfect for your little one and you called to make an appointment. First, it is recommended that you schedule your appointment at a time when your little one is usually happy. For some kids, first thing in the morning is the best, for others, it’s after they have had a nap. To give your child the best chance at a great first experience, always try to schedule them when they are at their best.
The dental office can be a scary place, especially for adults who may have had a not so pleasant experience in the past. As parents we want to be sure that we don’t color our little ones opinions on the dental office before they arrive. Always have a positive attitude and when asked questions about the upcoming appointment, be sure to use positive, uplifting language. You can say things like: “You are going to go for a ride in the dental chair”, “The dentist is going to count your teeth”, “the hygienist is going to brush your teeth just like we do at home”.
We will cover the Do’s and Don’ts of talking to your children about the dentist in a future post but try your best not to mention shots, needles, drills etc. As parents, sometimes we want to impress upon our children the consequences of not brushing, but this tends to be scary and can lead to an unhealthy relationship with their oral care.
Activities to prepare
If you aren’t already brushing your child’s teeth at home, it’s time to start. The American Academy of Pediatric dentistry recommends brushing your kid’s teeth as soon as they erupt with a grain of rice sized amount of fluoride containing tooth paste. Once your child turns 3, you can increase the tooth paste to a pea sized amount. Even though your child probably still can’t spit out the extra tooth paste, it’s ok. A rice sized amount will give your child the cavity fighting benefits of fluoride without any adverse side effects.
In addition to brushing, you can practice counting your child’s teeth at home and encouraging them to “Open big like a lion” for you to visualize their teeth. This will help your child get used to what is expected at their dental visit.
Books and TV Shows can help
At Maple Glen Family Dentistry, we don’t recommend a lot of screen time for little ones but we have noticed that kids tend to love seeing their favorite characters do activities that may be scary and mirror the positivity and good behavior. These are some of our favorite dental positive TV episodes:
Daniel Tiger Season 4 Episode 5: Daniel Visits the Dentist/Daniel’s First Haircut
In this episode, Daniel visits his new neighbor and dentist Dr. Plat, for the first time. Daniel was a little nervous at first but he talks about what happens at the dentist and this helps him feel better.
Bubble Guppies Season 2 Episode 8: A Tooth on the Looth
In this episode, the guppies learn about primary and permanent dentition and that it is ok for their baby teeth to fall out. The guppies learn about what is needed to keep your teeth clean and what a dentist is. The Guppies get their teeth examined and learn that dental care is really fun!
You can also read some great dental focused books:
- Dora The Explorer: Show me your Smile! A visit to the Dentist
- The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss
- Brush Your Teeth Please by Leslie Mcguire
- The Tooth Book: Guide to Healthy Teeth & Gums by Edward Miller
We hope this helps you and your child prepare for their first dental visit. At Maple Glen Family Dentistry we see adults and children and love giving everyone a positive and comfortable experience. If you’re looking for a new dentist, don’t hesitate to give us a call, 716-688-5717.