Your child's first dental visit

Be prepared for your child’s first dental visit.

Have you ever heard the saying “the days are long, but the years are short”? Well, if you have children, you’ll probably agree with that. Time does fly by when you’re raising a little one, and in the blink of an eye, your tiny newborn has become a boisterous one-year-old. While you’re busy organizing an awesome first birthday party for them, there is something else you should remember: their first dental visit.

It might surprise you, but dentists recommend scheduling your child’s first appointment around this age. At one, most children already have a few teeth (or a lot!), and it’s crucial to look after them both at home and with regular dental visits.

This is the best way to ensure they enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile throughout their life. If you understand the importance of this but are feeling a bit apprehensive and don’t know what to expect from your child’s first dental visit, then read on. We are about to give you a lot of useful tips and information to make this milestone more exciting than daunting.

Good dental habits start at home.

First things first: to make sure your child enjoys (or at least doesn’t fear) seeing the dentist, you want to start getting them into the habit of looking after their teeth at home. At this age, this means two main things: reducing their sugar intake and brushing their teeth daily.

Try to substitute refined sugars with healthy snacks like fruits, yogurts, and oats. As toothbrushing goes, you should do your best to turn it into a fun activity. How? By singing a song (you could even make one up), reading a book about teeth, and generally using positive language and smiling a lot. Another excellent trick is to brush your teeth (or pretend to!) while they brush theirs, perhaps standing together in front of a mirror.

Toddlers are great imitators, and they tend to copy most of the stuff they see adults do. Precisely because they learn by imitating and watching grown-ups, it’s crucial that the positive language you use when talking about the dentist is backed by your own confident behavior. If you’re acting in an anxious or stressed-out way when you’re at the dentist, your child will pick it up and might end up showing the same attitude. So, lead by example, and your little one will follow suit.

Use positive language and behavior.

Before booking your kid’s first visit, you might want to check whether the practice you’ve chosen offers small tours. If you opt for a pediatric dentist, chances are they will be happy to accommodate this request. Pediatric dentists specialize in infant dental care and are specifically trained to deal with babies and young children.

A quick visit to the practice can be helpful to allow your child to feel comfortable and familiar with the environment and people before they are actually seen by a dentist. Check with your dentist that this can be done, especially in light of the current COVID-19 restrictions.

Once you are at the practice, point out things like pictures on the wall, couches, or colorful objects your child might find interesting. When you both get home, keep talking to your child about the dentist’s office. Highlight how “cool” and fun it was to sit on that big, comfy chair and how beautiful the pictures on the walls were. Use assertive words like “brave,” “good,” and “strong,” and remind them how exciting it is that they will soon have their pearly whites looked after.

If you opt for this tactic, you will want to book your kid’s visit fairly soon after their little tour. The memory of a young child is not well developed yet, and if you let weeks or months go by, they will forget all about the dentist.

And if you choose a pediatric dentist like Must Love Kids, you can expect this tour to be fun and playful, full of smiles and little games that will make your child feel entertained and relaxed.

What happens on the day of the appointment?

Now, for the real deal: your baby’s first dental visit. Before delving into what to expect on the day, let’s linger a bit more on the emotional aspect. The night before the appointment, when you’re brushing your teeth with your child, keep reminding them about their upcoming visit. Smile, act excited, and tell them how much you’re looking forward to it.

Make sure you schedule the visit for a time when your kid is normally awake and not hungry: mid-morning usually works great for most. Invite your little one to bring along a favorite toy or book (or both!) and play some nice music during your car journey. It’s very important to keep them calm, confident, and content in the lead-up to their appointment.

Once you have arrived at the practice, you could start asking your child if they remember the place. Remind them of the colorful pictures on the wall and the cool couch. Make them laugh and try to instill feelings of ease and confidence.

The actual checkup will likely be very relaxed and consist of the dentist talking to you about general dental care and hygiene for your child. If you have any specific questions or concerns, it’s a good idea to bring them up now. The dentist will then try to chat a bit with your little one, keeping it laid-back and enjoyable. They will explain that they will need to take a quick peek at their pearly whites to make sure everything looks good. Depending on how old your child is, the rest of the checkup will involve gently brushing and flossing their teeth (for younger toddlers) or adding a little extra such as X-rays (if your child is a bit older). Very young kids will be able to sit on the parent’s lap for the whole checkup to make them feel more at ease.

In general, you should expect the visit to last anything from 15 to 30–45 minutes. As a rule of thumb, the younger your child is, the shorter the appointment will be. Babies and young toddlers tend to get grizzly and impatient very quickly, and they might not be up for sitting still for long periods of time.

Turn your baby’s first dental visit into the beginning of an exciting adventure.

Remember that your work is not done once the appointment is over. If you want to foster good dental health for your child, you need to keep up the good work you’ve done so far. This means continuing to look after their teeth at home, preparing them nutritious and healthy meals and snacks, and scheduling regular dental checkups.

If you have a young kid and haven’t booked their first dental visit yet, don’t wait any longer. With the tips and tricks in this article, you can turn this into an exciting experience. Call us to schedule their friendly, relaxed appointment today!