father holds child's hand as she sits in the dentists chair and gets dental work done

When to Book Your Child’s First Dentist Appointment

Good habits are best ingrained early on, especially when it comes to oral health. But is it ever too soon to start taking your child to the dentist? It’s important to prioritize your child’s oral health early on, and you may be surprised when the ideal time to bring them to their first dentist appointment is. This article will also explain what parents can expect from their child’s first appointment and how they can best prepare them for it.

Read More: Your Child’s First Dental Appointment

The importance of Starting Pediatric Dental Care Early

It’s vital to start your child’s dental care as early as within six months after their first tooth comes in. Being vigilant about their dental care will prevent them from suffering any oral health issues early on, and dentists may be able to determine an early pattern of the child’s dental development.

Early Detection of Oral Health Issues

Tooth decay in toddlers today can mean crooked and unhealthy teeth and gums later on. Early dentistry for children gets your child off to a good start in caring for their teeth for a lifetime. It can also prematurely detect any oral health issues such as tooth decay and other mouth-related ailments that children’s dental professionals commonly treat. If left untreated, these ailments can lead to years of pain as well as costly damage to permanent teeth before they have even emerged.

Establishing Good Oral Health Habits

By introducing your child to the dentist at an earlier age, you’re normalizing oral health and teaching them that check-ups of all sorts are important. Good grooming and hygiene are important lessons for your child to learn, and starting them out young is the best way to teach them.

Preventing Dental Anxiety

The earlier you establish a positive oral routine for your child, the less likely they are to develop anxiety over going to the dentist. Many full-grown adults have dental anxiety because they were exposed to traumatic dental events in their lives (such as braces or an aggressive dentist), but choosing the right dentist who has a friendly rapport with children and turns the experience into one that is fun and positive (think: plenty of little toothbrush gifts!) makes a world of difference and sets them up for a life of positivity when it comes to dental care.

Is My Child Ready to Start Going to the Dentist?

Though it may seem daunting, and most parents wait till their children are a little older to visit the dentist at the same time, you can start taking your child to the dentist earlier than you think. In fact, the first dental visit is recommended by 12 months of age or within six months of the first tooth coming in.

What to Expect from The First Visit

Your child’s first dental visit is basically centered around creating a comfortable environment with the dentist in order to develop a positive association for future appointments. The first visit often lasts 30 to 45 minutes. Depending on your child’s age, the visit may include a full exam of the teeth, jaws, bite, gums, and oral tissues to check growth and development. If needed, your child may also have a gentle cleaning. The dentist may also demonstrate proper home cleaning and teach your child about important teeth-cleaning habits such as flossing.

Tips for Preparing Your Child for Their First Check-Up

Do a Mock Dental Exam at Home

Prepare a preschooler or older child for the visit by giving him or her a general idea of what to expect. Explain why it is important to go to the dentist. A great way to do this is to have fun and perform a mock dental exam at home. Kids start to build a large imagination at the age of 3-4, so they will appreciate the effort and continue to make a positive association if they have fun learning. Be sure to make the mock dental exam fun, informative, and gentle so that they know there is nothing to be afraid of. If possible, schedule morning appointments so young children are alert and fresh.

Develop an Oral Health Routine Early On

A trip to the dentist is a great way to give your child a keen interest in oral healthcare. Dentists usually provide a fun lesson with kids regarding dental care and a positive and healthy routine. They’ll instill the value of brushing your teeth three times a day and flossing, and they’ll teach your child how to brush his or her teeth the proper and effective way. If your child is a little older, they’ll also learn about baby teeth and how they fall off to make room for adult teeth to come in. So not only does a visit to the dentist help establish a positive and regular oral health care routine, but it is also an educational opportunity for your child to learn about the way teeth work.

Bring Your Child to Your Own Appointment

If you cannot create a mock exam at home, or if you have the opportunity to schedule your own dental appointment before your child’s, take them with you! But make sure your appointment is just a check-up or a dental cleaning so that they don’t have to witness anything traumatic. Refrain from bringing your child to a cavity pulling or a root canal.

Turn it Into a Positive Experience

A child’s first dental visit can be a quick and positive experience for both parent and child. It doesn’t have to be anything that’s scary or traumatic, but it can instead be educational and an example of proper healthcare.

Be sure to choose a family dentist that is also child-friendly and will provide a positive environment for your child’s first dental check-up.

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