When Should Your Child Go To the Dentist for the First Time

When Should Your Child Go To the Dentist for the First Time? Did you know that children’s teeth start forming before birth? The first baby, teeth erupt through the gums after four months. Knowing that, when is the perfect time to get the dental specialist involved? The answer is as soon as the first tooth appears. At this time, start brushing your child's teeth on a regular basis and schedule a dental specialist appointment. In some cases, children should visit the dentist by their first birthday.

According to the American Academy of Dentistry, your child should see a dental specialist once the first tooth appears, or no later than his or her first birthday.  

We believe your child’s first visit is not so much about the actual dental hygiene exam and cleaning.  The significance of the visit is to introduce your child to go to the dentist at a young age. Visiting the dental specialist at an early age helps kids get comfortable sitting in a dental chair, seeing the instruments used and the sounds of a dental office.  

Ask friends and family and choose a dental specialist in your locality who likes children and takes care of them on a regular daily basis on dentist appointments. The first relationship your child has with a dental specialist can leave an everlasting impression. 

Child's First Dental Visit

You can make your child's visit to the dental specialist enjoyable and positive. Tell your child in advance that the dentist will look at their teeth and clean them. Try showing them pictures of a dental specialist or have fun role-playing, acting like you or your child are the dentists. Most dental specialists prefer that a parent is available for the examination of any child younger than three. Dentist asks the parent to sit in the dental chair and hold your child in their lap in the first examination. It can also be cooperative to take your children along for an older sibling’s dental specialist visit so that they can get familiar to the office and the people. 

As children get more older, they are usually glad to be “grown up” and are willing to sit in the chair alone even though they send their parents back to the waiting area. At the first visit, your dental specialist will examine your child’s mouth for early signs of decay and several other difficulties. The dentist will also tell you many of the things you will need to know about helping your child grow up cavity-free. After the first visit, be sure your child sees the dental specialist on a regular basis when your appointment is confirmed.

Things to do to get your child to like going to the dentist:

  • Get excited about taking your child to the dentist.
  • Be positive
  • Let your child touch the items around him or her while sitting in the chair – with the assistance of your dental hygienist, of course.
  • Let your child ask lots of questions.
  • Explain what is happening during the visit positively so your child will be interested and comfortable.
  • Make brushing and flossing fun at home.  This is the first step to life-long good oral hygiene.
  • If your child fusses, don’t worry.  Stay calm and remember that dentists and our teams are used to working with children and families.  We can help!

Things NOT TO DO to get your child to like going to the dentist:

  • Do not use going to the dental specialist as a “punishment” for a behavior.
  • Do not tell your child he or she will be punished if they misbehave at the dentist’s office
  • Do not tell your child there are needles or that getting their teeth cleaned will hurt.  It doesn’t hurt.
  • Do not bribe your child to go to the dental specialist or be “good” at the dentist’s office.  This sets up the expectation that the experience isn’t positive.

Therefore, make sure you can take your child to the dental specialist after the first tooth comes in.  And, try to make it a fun, positive experience!  This first visit to the dental specialist will shape your child’s long lasting perception of the dentist’s office and his or her own personal hygiene.

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