It is never too soon to start thinking about your child’s dental health.
Whether they have a few popping through or a full set of teeth, it is important to keep their tiny teeth and gums healthy. Though it may seem a bit early, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggest making an appointment with a child dentist by the time they sprout a tooth or turn one year old, whichever may come first. Don’t worry if your child is a bit older, it’s never too late! Besides ensuring their teeth and gums are healthy, early visits help your child build a positive association with the dentist, making future trips and procedures less daunting and less of a hassle for you and them. They will also develop good oral hygiene habits early, setting them up for a happy and healthy smile for life!
If your child is a baby or young toddler, it can be very easy to prepare for their first dental visit. Generally at this age, they will likely cry in unfamiliarity, then calm down and let the dentist get to work. If your child is a bit older, they likely have a good awareness of what is going on around them, so a dental visit may seem scary. To make your child’s first and future dental visits easier, consider the following:
Introduce Dental Routines Early On
Before your child sprouts their first teeth, you should be cleaning their gums with a clean, damp cloth. After they get their first teeth, you can switch to a child’s toothbrush that is specifically made with softer bristles. At this point, you can also purchase child-safe toothpaste for them.
As soon as they are old enough to eat with a fork and spoon, they are able to hold their own toothbrush. Teeth them how to brush by themselves, trying to make it a fun activity. Always supervise your child while they brush and consider having them brush when you do! When they see you practicing good oral hygiene, they learn it is a good thing.
Practice at Home
Visiting the dentist can be alarming for your child, as they are essentially having a stranger poking around their mouth in an unfamiliar setting. Alleviate the intimidating by playing pretend dentist with them! Take them through every step of the cleaning procedure and explain each so that they understand.
Find a good spot to act as a dental chair and if you prefer, add a bright light above your child. Gently open their mouth and explain that the dentist is going to do the same and wants to examine their teeth to make sure they are healthy. If your child has any toys that may look like dental tools, use those to demonstrate the processes. Be mindful to use positive connotations and never reference potential pain.
Bring Your Child to Your Appointments
By bringing your child to your dental appointment, you can show them that a cleaning and visit is nothing to be afraid of. Your child will see your friendly interaction with the dentist and will learn that exams are painless, making their future appointment much easier.
If you are anxious when visiting the dentist, taking your child with you may not be the best choice. They will be able to read your emotions and could associate the dentist as a negative experience.
Try to Schedule a Morning Appointment
Most children are in a brighter, happier mood in the mornings. Try to schedule their first appointment in the early hours, as they may become cranky as it gets closer to nap time.
If your child seems to be at their prime in the afternoon, feel free to schedule their appointment then. By being mindful of the timing, the appointment can go a lot smoother for your child, yourself, and the dental team.
Choose a Child Dentist
Child dentists specialize in dental and oral care for kids, which means that they have experience with many first visits. Generally, their office is welcoming to kids, whether it be with bright and fun colors or fun toys in the waiting room. With a child’s interests in mind, a pediatric dentist office can be a fun place for your child!
The dentist, hygienists, and staff members at a child dentist office have the training and experience to treat kids and make it a more welcoming environment for them. In the event your child is nervous, unruly, or has special needs, a pediatric dentist and team are more able to soothe them than an adult dentist may be.
If you’re looking for a friendly, knowledgeable child dentist in the Lake Jeanette and Greensboro, NC areas, choose Carolina Smiles! Our family dentistry team creates a calming atmosphere so your child’s first or future appointments do not seem like a chore. For more information or to schedule an appointment for your child, contact us today!