Your child is growing every day, and their first visit to a dentist is one of the most important things you should start including in your to-do list. Your child’s first dentist visit should occur after the first tooth appears but not after their first birthday. This is because the first teeth begin to grow during this period, and the baby can get cavities.
Not taking your child’s dental health for granted will help make their smile healthy for life.
What age should a child go to the dentist?
Every child is different, so there is no fixed age to take your child to a dentist, but it is advised to take your child to a dentist in their first year. A lot of parents tend to postpone the first dental visits of their child for some reasons, which include;
They don’t see the need
One of the reasons why some parents don’t take their child on their first dental visit is because they don’t see the necessity or because their child doesn’t have enough teeth to visit a dentist yet. So, visiting a dentist won’t be worth it.
But it is actually vital to take your child to the dentist where they get to know the team, become familiar with the clinical setting and feel comfortable with the process.
An important habit to form when they’re young, ensuring your child has regular dentist check ups will form part of their routine as they grow up.
Although their baby teeth eventually fall out, making way for adult teeth, it’s still extremely important to take good care of them because if baby teeth need to be removed early due to decay, the loss of space can cause crowding issues when the permanent teeth erupt.
They don’t think their child can handle it
Many parents avoid dentists because of fear of how their child will respond to the treatment and the unfamiliar environment of a dentist’s office. Even if you think your child’s teeth are healthy physically, there may be an underlying problem that a dentist can only see.
Most parents look for signs like tooth decay as the only condition for taking their child to a dentist. But it is necessary to take your child for a dental visit for a dentist to see the early signs and prevent them from getting worse.
Don’t be embarrassed by your child crying or shouting in a dentist’s office. It is a normal thing that will happen, but a paediatric dentist knows how to calm your child down and make them relax.
How to prepare your child for a dentist visit
Choose a happy appointment time
Study your child and book their appointment at a time that suits them best. Choose a time that your child is usually happy and attentive. Most time, young children of less than two years tend to be happy and attentive in the morning, and older children tend to be happy in the afternoon.
Choosing a morning session for your child is good. Try to avoid any appointments scheduled for the evening because children get tired in the evening, which will impact their response.
Once an appointment has been scheduled with a dentist, all you need to start is preparing your child for the visit. Children do learn best when they are having fun.
Go with their favourite toy
Study what your child loves playing with. Some children love playing video games, and some love to play with a cuddly toy. So, prepare to take along the cuddly toy. This is because once the cuddly toy is taken along, dentists practice what they are going to do with them on the cuddly toy, which can help them understand.
Put them at ease
When an appointment is already scheduled, tell them about what will happen in their trip to the dentist. Assure them that nothing will affect their teeth and that the dentist will only examine teeth, brush them, and put them through how to make them healthy. Tell them that with these, they will have a beautiful smile.
You can also plan a treat for them that you will buy their favourite food for them if they behave well. Telling them that you will be there with them and that the dentist will show them all the tools and explain the necessary procedures will put them at ease.
Watch videos about going to the dentist
Studying your child is a way of preparing them for a dental visit. It would be best if you studied their favourite characters. When they see their favourite characters visiting a dentist, it helps to develop a positive mindset that visiting a dentist is normal.
Showing them this video will help them know what will happen in the dentist’s office, and it won’t be like a scary new situation to them.
Play some games
Playing or dentist video games is an effective way to demystify the experience with your child and prepare them for their first dental visit. After playing the video games for several hours, you can set them on a chair. Then brush their teeth, talking to them about how important oral hygiene is.
What Happens if You Delay Your Child's First Dental Visit
Baby teeth, also known as milk teeth, are important for your child’s oral health. If you take your child for their first dental visit early, it allows your child to:
- To develop proper speech patterns
- To chew properly
- Establish good oral hygiene habits
- Give them white teeth and a beautiful smile
Denying or delaying your child first visit to the dentist may lead to problems like:
- Tooth infections
- Teeth grinding
- Lazy oral hygiene practices
Choosing a dentist for your child
Before choosing a dentist for your child, you need to understand that not every child has cavities, and your child is not destined to have them, but precautions must be taken to prevent it. The most important thing is to select the best dentist for your child. Below are some of the steps to choosing a dentist.
Find a specialist children’s dentist
This is the first step and yet the most important when choosing a dentist for your child. It would be best if you had a paediatric dentist because they are specially trained for children’s teeth like our children’s dentists are. What makes the best option in this kind of situation is because they have a piece of unique knowledge on a child’s oral health that non-specialists don’t have.
Instead of looking for just any dentist, make sure you look for a paediatric dentist. This gives your child a unique dental experience and helps them develop good oral hygiene from a young age.
Here at Gisborne Family Dental, we provide dentistry for children and the whole family – it’s right there in our name!
Ask about an initial consultation
Instead of just meeting a dentist online and choosing a date or appointment, ask if they offer an initial consultation. This is because this is what will give you a chance to bring your child, get to meet the dentist, and your child get to feel the office.
This also helps you understand that it is not a scary experience and allows you to ask any questions about your child’s oral health before choosing the actual appointment date.
Pay attention to the dentist’s demeanour
During your first consultation with the dentist, try to notice how the dentist and receptionist interact with your child. This is because they need to understand how to talk to a child and easily understand, and they also need to be friendly.
It helps when a child is nervous because the dentist will explain what they are doing before doing it. A good paediatric dentist is always fun, making them turn fun into treatment.
Read online reviews
If you are searching for a paediatric dentist online, you need to read their online reviews. This is what will give you insights into what they have done. Pay attention to both bad and good reviews. Once you see how the reviews are handled and how other parents’ children are handled then you will have an idea of how your child will be handled.
Our children’s dentists will put you and your family first. We make sure you’re well looked after and your kids enjoy their experience at Gisborne Family Dental.
It’s never too early to begin teaching your little ones correct oral hygiene. From when their first teeth start to come through as babies, we encourage you to help your kids brush and floss their teeth, all while making it fun.