If you will be taking your child or grandchild to their first dental appointment soon, good for you! Early dental care is crucial for continued good oral health among the youngest of dental patients. Dental visits may have changed since you were a kid. What can you expect to happen at that first visit?
You might have more anxiety than your child. You may have your own preconceived notions about childhood dentist visits. It is really important that you do not somehow transmit these fears to your child.
For a child, a first visit to the dentist is a happy milestone. It can be a little exciting, and if all goes well, a very positive experience. Many children list their dentists among some of their most trusted adults in their lives. Dentists see them regularly, ask the kids to smile, put the kids in a cool comfy chair, and dentists are trained to be gentle and positive.
What will happen at the first dental visit? In general, the answer is “Nothing scary”. The dentist will look at the teeth very gently and count them. Some dentists will engage the children in helping to count the teeth, too. Dentists will discuss with the caregivers any oral health concerns, including eating and drinking habits, current oral hygiene practices and any worrisome areas, like thumb-sucking. If the children are old enough, the child’s teeth will be gently cleaned and polished. Dentists can also give parents a timeline as to when teeth should erupt and even when to expect visits from the Tooth Fairy.
Dentists are teachers. Dentists and their staff will help work with older children to make sure they understand how to brush their teeth and why it is important. For parents, having another adult authority who values teeth brushing is very helpful. Whenever there is pushback at home about brushing or flossing, parents can invoke the authority of the dentist, saying, “But Dr. ___said….”
So, make your appointment for that little one and help usher them into a lifetime of great habits and pearly whites.