About 86.9% of children ages 2 to 17 have visited a dentist in the past year. However, you should take your child in for their first dental visit before they’re two years of age. Taking them to their pediatric dentist for annual appointments can ensure a stunning, healthy smile.
Unfortunately, 13.2% of children have untreated dental caries. Neglecting to find a child dentist can lead to cavities, gum disease, and dental anxiety.
Not sure what to expect at your child’s first visit to the dentist? Read on to learn everything you need to know today!
When to Schedule a Visit
First, it’s important to schedule your child’s first visit to the dentist within six months of their first tooth erupting (coming in). If your child’s first tooth hasn’t erupted, take them to visit the dentist around their first birthday.
During this appointment, you can talk to your dentist about:
- Finger-sucking habits
- Pacifier habits
- Mouth cleaning
- Infant feeding techniques/practices
- Baby bottle tooth decay
Visiting your child’s pediatric dentist while they’re still young can minimize the likelihood of them developing dental anxiety. Otherwise, dental anxiety could make future appointments more difficult. If your child is anxious about dental visits, they might not receive the care they need.
How to Prepare
Long before your child’s first dental visit, prepare them and yourself.
First, try to schedule your child’s first appointment while they’re alert and free, early in the day. If necessary, schedule it after their nap instead. Scheduling an appointment before their nap might leave your child in a grumpy state.
Try to give your child a general idea of what to expect from a routine appointment.
First, the dentist will complete a visual examination of their teeth and gums. If your child is old enough, the dentist might recommend dental X-rays, too. Walking your child through a routine appointment can keep them from forming worst-case scenarios in their minds.
Try to build excitement and understanding about dental visits.
Lead by example at home. Show your child how you brush and floss your teeth twice a day. Young children are likely to mimic the older people around them.
Don’t forget to prepare yourself as well. Draft a list of questions you want to ask during your child’s appointment. Consider scheduling a consultation appointment alone with the dentist before your child’s check-up.
If you have anxiety about visiting the dentist, try not to let your child see it. Instead, give them the moral support they need to remain calm. Otherwise, your child might pick up on your anxieties before mimicking the behavior themselves.
Why do you need to take your child to the dentist while they’re still young?
Bringing your child to the dentist before their first birthday can reduce the likelihood of tooth decay. Your dentist can check your child’s teeth for plaque and tartar formation before problems develop. Then, they can provide preventative dentistry techniques to help your child avoid cavities in the future.
Helping your child avoid cavities can save them from painful symptoms and stressful treatments later on. It can also save you the expense of more complex treatments.