New parents often wonder when to schedule their child’s first dental appointment
It is recommended that your child has their first dental visit by their first birthday. Many parents are surprised that such early dental visits are recommended. However, studies have shown that preschool-aged children are developing more cavities in their teeth. Over 1 in 4 children in the United States have gotten at least one cavity by the time they turn 4. Many children even develop cavities as early as 2 years old.
To prevent early childhood cavities, parents first should talk to their kids about the importance of regular oral care. Children should also learn how to maintain good eating habits, dental care and using fluoride to prevent cavities. Dental visits are a huge part of educating kids about oral health and keeping your child’s teeth healthy and cavity free.
Before the Appointment
Prepare your child for their first dental visit by talking to him or her about it in a positive way. You can have your child practice opening his or her mouth for the dental exam to get them ready for when the dentist counts and examines their teeth and gums. If your child is anxious about the appointment, reading books or watching videos about first dental visits can ease their worries and make them and more comfortable.
Parents can prepare, too. When making the appointment, it can be more convenient to ask for any required patient forms ahead of time. It may be quicker and easier to finish the forms at home instead of at the dental practice on the day of your child’s visit.
What to Expect During the Visit
A child’s first dental visit is usually short and involves very little treatment if any. This visit gives your child the opportunity to meet their dentist in a comfortable and friendly setting. Some dentists will let the parent sit in during the exam to comfort their child. However, the parent may also be asked to wait in the reception area during a segment of the visit so that a relationship can be built between your child and the dentist, helping them to feel more comfortable.
During the visit, the dentist will examine all of your child’s existing teeth to check for decay. The dentist will look at your child’s bite, and look for any potential problems with the gums, jaw, and oral tissues. If necessary, the dentist or hygienist will clean your child’s teeth and assess the need for fluoride. The dentist will also discuss dental care basics for kids and go over dental developmental issues, and lastly answer any questions you or your child may have.
Tips for a Great Visit
- Don’t make a dental appointment during naptime. Instead, you should pick a time when your child is rested and cooperative.
- Make sure your child has eaten and brushed their teeth before the visit so they won’t be hungry during the examination.
- Be sure your child’s teeth are brushed before the appointment and save snacks for afterwards so they aren’t stuck to your child’s teeth during the exam.
- Discuss the appointment with your child as a pleasant and fun experience. If they get upset during their visit, help the dentist to keep your child calm.
Click here to learn more about Kaufman Children’s Dental Hospital and the pediatric dental services offered.