What to Expect and How To Prepare Your Child for That First Visit
There can be a lot of fear and anxiety involved in a patient’s first dental visit – especially if they are a young child. The American Dental Association recommends a child’s first visit be at the age of 1. You may be wondering why so young? The first visit is more or less for parent education. A lot happens developmentally speaking in the first few years of a child’s life. Addressing concerns and questions before problems arise is vital in the oral health of the child.
A child will typically get their first cleaning around the age of three years old. The first visit is very important in establishing the tone for future visits. Parents should be sure that any talk about the dentist is positive and non-threatening manner. A lot of a child’s anxiety comes from experience and what the parents are feeling.
Some people think because a child will lose their baby teeth that they don’t have to worry much about taking care of them. This is not true at all. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), it is very important to keep primary (or baby) teeth in place until they are lost naturally. The primary teeth are important for many reasons including:
- Helping children chew properly to maintain good nutrition
- Involvement in speech development.
- Helping save space for permanent teeth.
- Promoting a healthy smile that helps children feel good about the way they look.
Many people don’t understand how important their children’s baby teeth are to lifelong oral health, says Ken Sutherland, DDS, senior dental consultant at Delta Dental. There’s a continuing need for more education to teach practices, such as proper techniques for brushing and flossing, that will ensure lifelong oral health. The first dentist visit is a great opportunity for parents to learn how best to care for their children’s teeth.
Calming Dental Visit Jitters
If you begin taking your children to the dentist around the time the first tooth erupts, then they are probably too young to be nervous. But if you’ve waited until your child is older (for example, two years), then he or she may have some anxiety at the time of the first visit.
What’s the best way to prepare your child for the whirring machinery, sharp instruments and a stranger telling him or her to open wide?
- Give your child a sneak preview. Take your child with you for your next checkup to see you having your teeth examined and cleaned.
- Learn more about it. Lots of books and online resources are geared toward teaching children more about dental health and dentist visits. Delta Dental’s children’s web site www.mysmilekids.com has stories and fun activities to help children learn about their teeth.
- Play around. Take turns being the dentist and the patient with your child. Examine each other’s teeth with a mirror or use your fingers to count each other’s teeth so that your child will be familiar with the feel of a dentist examination.
- Timing is everything. Plan plenty of time so that the dental visit isn’t rushed, and make sure your child is well-rested before the visit so that he or she feels relaxed and comfortable.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s oral health please contact Personal Care Dentistry at 651-636-0655.
SOURCES: American Dental Association and Delta Dental