Preparing your young child for their first visit to the dentist
First, what age should you start taking your child to the dentist? There is no set age. Whenever your child gets their first teeth, schedule an appointment within six months. No need to come before they start popping through.
Positive comments informing a child about an upcoming visit can mean the difference between a tear-filled encounter full of dramatic emotions and a calm, inquisitive, learning experience ending in successfully-cleaned teeth. We want every child and parent to leave our office knowing they want to come again.
Every parent can set the tone for a visit at the dentist. Telling a child that the dentist will give them a shot sets a very scary tone before they have had the chance to create any positive thoughts about the actual visit. It sets the child up for a life-long dread of regular dental care.
Here are some ideas to help prepare a young child for a dental cleaning:
In the days leading up to the appointment, explain what will happen during the visit.
- Children under 6 years old will be brought back into the operatory with their parent and shown the dental chair.
- They will be given sunglasses to shield their eyes.
- The child will have the opportunity to choose a fluoride flavor and a tooth brush.
- The hygienist will brush their teeth, coat their teeth with fluoride and perform a quick check of the mouth including counting the teeth.
- The dentist will then perform a quick check to make sure nothing more needs attention.
The basic need for this early-age visit is to;
- Familiarize your child with the dentist, staff and the cleaning experience.
- Count the teeth.
- Make sure regular maintenance has been enough to keep the baby teeth safe until adult teeth arrive later.
- Check for any early signs of decay to prevent cavities.
- Suggest changes in habits if there are early signs of decay.
Preventing cavities is much easier and less expensive then dealing with them later.
Read to your child books about going to the dentist. We recommend:
- Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer
- Dentist Trip (Peppa Pig)
- The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist
- The Crocodile & the Dentist
- What to Expect When You Go to the Dentist
- Show Me Your Smile!: A Visit to the Dentist (Dora)
- Look! My Tooth Is Loose!
- Bear's Loose Tooth
Show them how it's done.
Make your appointment with the dentist at the same time as your child's appointment. When they see you get your teeth cleaned, they might want to do it, too. We love to schedule family appointment blocks!