If your child is due for his first dental visit, you might be nervous about what to expect, especially if you are not entirely comfortable around dentists. Yet your child’s first dental visit is an excellent opportunity to develop relationships and positive memories that will set the stage for a lifetime of dental health. Most dentists today understand the importance of the first visit and will go out of their way to ensure that it is a success. Here is what you should know.
Although at Andover Pediatric Dentistry, we can take care of your baby’s very first visit, many parents prefer to have the pediatrician handle this visit, which should occur at approximately one year of age. This visit is for the parents more than the baby, as you will learn to care for your baby’s emerging teeth, discuss fluoride risks and benefits, and find out how to minimize common risks to your baby’s oral health.
Of course, your child will not remember this very early visit. At around the age of 3, your toddler is old enough to take some responsibility for her own dental health, with lots of help from mom or dad. This is the time to schedule the first “big kid” visit with the dentist.
Meet and Greet
It all starts with a tour of the office and a meet and greet with the staff. Your child will meet the dentist, along with some or all of the office staff, techs, and hygienists. These meetings are crucial for helping your child build positive relationships.
Next, the dentist will sit down with your child and some props to teach basic information about cavities, nutrition, and other factors that affect oral health. This is a great time for parents to ask any questions they have as well.
Next, we want to help your child get familiar with common dental equipment and the noises it makes. Riding up and down in the dental chair, playing with the squirt gun, and even listening to the drill are vital steps. This process removes the fear of the unknown and helps your child learn to relax in the dental chair.
Basic Cleaning and Sealing
At this point, most kids are ready to open wide. The dentist will start with counting the teeth and then move forward with a basic exam and cleaning, and perhaps dental x-rays. Fluoride may also be applied to the teeth with the parent’s consent. If this happens, be sure to keep your child from eating or drinking for the next 30 minutes.
At the end of the visit, your child will receive a reward such as a small toy for being brave and well-behaved. This gives kids something to look forward to at each visit.
Please note that kids are individuals. Some may not be ready for a full exam and cleaning on their first visit, and that is perfectly okay. We will watch your child’s reactions closely, and cut the appointment short if needed. We can then try again in a few weeks. With persistence and gentle, positive reinforcement, we are confident that we can foster a relationship of trust with even the most nervous child.