The time has finally come for the first dentist visit for your kid and chances are you are more nervous than they are!
Often the first visit can be a daunting experience for many parents and in some rare occasions for the child as well.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with these insider dentistry tips on how to prepare your child for the first dentist visit.
Your child’s first dentist visit.
In this post, we are going to cover the who, when, how and what of that first dentist visit to ensure that it is a success and the start of a positive experience with dentists for you and your child.
Choosing a child-friendly practice.
One mistake that parents commonly make is just assuming that their current dentist is the most sensible place to bring their kids.
Unfortunately just because a dentist is excellent with adults doesn’t mean that their practice is suitable for children.
We would suggest asking your dentist first of their experience with working with kids, but the real secret is to ask other parents!
Get chatting to some other parents in your local area whose kids are a little older and who have already made that first dentist visit.
Not only can they recommend a child-friendly practice, but it’s another sneaky way to score some great advice.
How do I know when it’s time for my kid’s first dentist visit?
We would strongly recommend that your child comes to the dentist either when their FIRST teeth come through, or on their FIRST birthday – whatever comes FIRST (see it’s easy to remember.)
It’s important to get a check up at this time to ensure that no avoidable complications occur. It’s also great to start early because it gets that first dentist visit out of the way and means your child will get more comfortable, quicker.
Start dental hygiene habits as soon as possible.
This is possibly the most important piece of advice in this whole article.
If you can get your child on board with dental hygiene and establish life-long habits everything else will be a breeze.
The number 1 way to cause a child to be afraid of the dentist is for them to undergo a correctional treatment early on that could have been avoided.
If their first visits are spent having a lot of work done to their teeth it is almost impossible for them to associate going to the dentist with anything positive.
Here are some habits to get your child dentist ready and give them the best shot at a healthy set of teeth and gums:
- Stop using a pacifier and a bottle as soon as possible as this can cause teeth to come out wonky.
- Cut the thumb sucking habit for the same reason.
- Don’t let them go to bed with a milk bottle – the liquid and sugar can actually cause tooth decay.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste.
- Start brushing teeth as soon as they develop.
- Get your child into a routine with their dental habits that will follow them for the rest of their life.
Remember prevention is better than treatment!
After finding a practice and booking an appointment there are some things you can do to ensure that this trip is a success.
Make a plan.
As you know by now with your little one, having a plan makes things much easier for all parties involved.
- Decide which parent is going to be best suited for the first dentist visit.
- Leave yourself plenty of time on the day so your child doesn’t feel rushed.
- Talk to your child and explain to them in a way they can understand what is going to happen (we understand this is hard when they are 1).
- Make sure you are in the examination room with your child and let them know you are still there every now and then.
Have a backup plan.
The secret weapon of all parents: the backup plan.
Though we don’t encourage you to expect the worst, it is often helpful to prepare for it.
Come armed with some emergency plans like their favorite toy to calm them down if they start to get unsettled.
We have seen many parents successfully steer a near-frantic experience by putting on their kid’s favorite TV show while they have their first dentist visit.
You know your child and you know what will work.
Make it fun.
Kids learn so much through playing and having fun.
You can prepare you kid for their first visit by making it fun and exciting.
Why not make it a game the weeks running up to the first dentist visit of checking each other’s teeth?
Even making noises of what some of the equipment will sound like (such as the suction straw ) can help prepare your child more than you would imagine.
Having a great themed kid’s toothbrush of their favorite tv character is a fun way to get them excited about brushing their teeth.
Songs, instructional shows, and even dances are a great way to prepare your child for their first dentist visit.
Also be sure to use our tooth fairy printouts to make losing teeth fun!
Be a good role model.
Being a parent is all about leading by doing. Dental hygiene and checkups are no exceptions.
Be sure to maintain a positive attitude about your own trips to the dentist. If you are frustrated or don’t care about your own dental care then it will be hard for your child to get excited about it themselves.
Brush your teeth with your child and be engaged and proactive – this will get them on board much faster.
When it comes to the day of the visit be sure to maintain a calm attitude, doing your best not to display any nerves as your child will quickly pick up on this.
We find that calm parents bring calm kids with them to the dentist and that’s great for everyone!
Set a reward.
This is the best bit right?
Setting a reward or planning a fun activity for after the visit can be a great way to build positive association around and even help to distract your child while they are in the examination room.
Whether it’s a trip to the zoo, walk in the park, or another activity they enjoy it can really help the whole thing run smoothly.
We don’t however, suggest in this situation to reward them with candy… but of course, we have to say that, we’re dentists!
What to expect on the first dentist visit.
If everything checks out good and healthy you can expect the first visit to be extremely routine and simple. Here are some things you will likely experience on your first visit:
- Meet & greet: The dentist will introduce themselves to your child.
- Cover the facts: Often using resources like finger puppets, the dentist will cover the basics of dental care with you child like how to brush your teeth properly and how to prevent cavities.
- Meet the machines: To prevent any anxiety it’s likely the dentist will show your child the different machines to get them interested but also familiar with the noises.
- Tooth inspection: Checking for any problems, seeing if tooth alignment is ok and if gums are healthy.
- A Quick polish and clean of the teeth.
- Optional fluoride treatment.
- High five: “you did it!”
Every practice does it differently but this is generally what you can expect. Be sure to ask your practice specifically of the run down of the visit if you are anxious about how it will go.
The dentist will also request to be notified of any medical conditions or other issues that your child has to ensure that they are treated with the right care.
If there are any issues found during the check-up no action will be taken without your permission and it is highly likely that a follow-up visit would be scheduled.
We would like to reiterate that the best solution for a positive visit is doing all you can to ensure your child doesn’t have any dental problems to begin with.
This can be achieved by regular brushing, controlling their diet and managing any habits that could be detrimental like thumb sucking.
Every child handles the first dentist visit differently and at the end of the day, there is only so much you can do.
Your dentist is a professional and will be used to handling any situation that occurs, especially if you take our advice and visit a child-friendly practice.
Preparing your child for their first dentist visit.
It may seem daunting, but what part of parenting isn’t! This can be scary especially if it’s your first child.
But don’t worry, we know that you have what it takes to hit this one out of the park and establish healthy and happy dentistry habits for your kids from the very first dentist visit.
Dentrix Dental Care are experts in child dentistry, providing a positive experience for both you and most importantly your child.
If you live in Market Hall or the North Hill area be sure to get in touch with us for all your dentistry needs.
We wish you all the best for their first dentist visit and look forward to hearing from you soon.