Guest Post Written By: Dr. Toni-Ann Hylton Mayembe, DDS - Pediatric Dentist
You have been faithful to take your little baby to all of the check-up appointments with the pediatrician. You notice these little teeth coming in, but the pediatrician doesn't mention it or mention anything about a dentist.
Your little one goes daycare and you hear some of the other parents talking about taking their kid to the dentist.
Wait a minute? Is it time for them to go to the dentist already? But your child is still a baby.
Don't worry. I've got you covered on when and how to prepare for your child's first visit.
When is the ideal time to take my child for their first dental visit?
AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) recommends your child's first dental visit when their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday.
You may think when their first tooth comes in ... that is really early. Yes, you're right. That could be as young as 6 months.
Many times you will hear the dentist say to bring your child in when they are 5 or 6, but this is just the dentist preference on what age he or she would like to start seeing children. Find a pediatric dentist in your area to take your child if your dentist is not comfortable with seeing young children.
Why so early?
This just ensures that your little one gets a dental home and gets established with a dentist. Also, it's great to start early so that you as a parent have a leg up on helping to prevent cavities and ensuring your child has a lifetime of great teeth.
The pediatric dentist will give you information and resources on how to keep your child's teeth clean, when to expect the remaining baby teeth to come in, and possibly when they will start losing baby teeth at your child's first dental visit.
What is the dentist looking for at the first visit?
The dentist is checking to make sure appropriate teeth have come in for child's age, checking soft tissue (like their cheeks and the roof of their mouth), assessing how well you and your child are brushing, and finally making sure there are no abnormalities in the teeth or inside of the mouth.
How to do I prepare my child for their first visit?
Depending on the child's age you don't have to say or do much when they are really young. If your child is talking I have a few helpful tips:
Don't try to explain too much.
The reason why I say this is sometimes parents try to explain things and end up using the wrong words that inadvertently puts fear in kids.
Say things like "the dentist is going to count your teeth and check to make sure you have no cavity bugs."
You want to make sure you use kid-friendly terms when talking to your child about the dentist. Keeping things on their level will keep them curious without being fearful of the dentist.
Don't use language to scare your child.
Avoid words like shot, needle, and hurt. Also phrases like "pull your tooth out" and "drill your tooth." None of these things sound good to a child. Even though you are trying to do your best to explain things to your child, you will cause your little one to be apprehensive even though you were just trying to be honest.
Don't pass your fears onto the child
Your kids pick up on the things that you are afraid of or don't like and will mirror those feelings. Try to stay excited and have a positive attitude about going to the dentist.
I know. It sounds silly, but trust me. When your kids see you excited about something they want to get in on whatever it is. Your excitement will make it easier for your child to have an awesome first visit.
Ask around or search on Google or the AAPD website for a pediatric dentist in your area when your child's first tooth comes in or by their first birthday. If they are a little older than one, no worries. Get them in as soon as you can for their first checkup at the dentist. When preparing your child's first visit, keep things simple and get excited so that they will have positive first experience and a lifetime of healthy teeth.
About the Author: Dr. Toni-Ann Hylton Mayembe, DDS is a wife, mom, blogger and family dentist in Jacksonville, Florida. Her blog helps mom’s achieve optimal oral health for themselves and the entire family. You can learn more about her here. www.drtonidds.com
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