Do you know when to schedule your child’s first dentist visit? Many parents wait too long to bring their children to the dentist, which can result in extra procedures and costs, as well as lasting dental anxiety. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry have determined that a child should visit the dentist as soon as they get their first tooth and no later than their second birthday.
Some parents get the impression that their child doesn’t have enough teeth yet to visit the dentist, or that they don’t need to care for baby teeth that will fall out anyway. However, putting off early dental care could cause big problems later. Though you can’t see them, your child’s permanent teeth develop underneath their primary (baby) teeth. Itʼs important that the primary teeth remain in place and in good condition in order to reserve space for permanent teeth, allow for good chewing and nutrition, and facilitate healthy speech development.
Get Ready for a Successful Visit
There are a variety of ways you can work with your child to get ready to visit Dr. Allen and help ensure they have a positive first experience at Autumn Dental:
- Give your child a sneak peek – Bring them with you to your next checkup so they can see you get your teeth examined and cleaned. Alternately, you could simply tell them about your dentist visit to familiarize them with the process.
- Find a dentist who’s great with kids – Look at reviews online and call to ask questions personalized to the needs of you and your child.
- Feel free to visit ahead of time – Stop by and see us anytime! Think about your child’s personality and preferences when you’re visiting. Maybe they would prefer a quiet and relaxed setting or an exciting office that offers toys and video games.
- Utilize books & online resources – You can familiarize your child with the ins and outs of a visit to the dentist and dental health before you even step foot in the office. At www.mysmilekids.com, Delta Dental has stories and fun activities to help children learn about their teeth.
- Play “dentist” with your child – You and your son or daughter can take turns being the patient and the dentist. Count teeth, examine each other’s teeth and look at your child’s teeth in the mirror with them. This will help your child feel more familiar with the examination process.
- Take your time – Make sure your child is well-rested and comfortable on the day of their visit. For children that have trouble with car rides, that might mean finding a dentist near home in Hendersonville.
- Consider a reward – If your child responds well to positive reinforcement, a special treat might ensure they have a great office visit.
What to Expect at your Child’s First Appointment at Autumn Dental
During your child’s very first visit, not a lot of actual examination will occur. Instead, the primary focus will be placed on making sure the child is comfortable and setting the stage for productive dentist visits in the coming months and years. However, there are important developmental milestones that Dr. Allen will check for in your childʼs mouth to confirm that their mouth is growing normally and ensure their future oral health. Dr. Allen will also educate you both on the best techniques for brushing and flossing.
When your child’s first dental visit occurs due to an injury or problem with their oral health, the risk of anxiety and tantrums increases. The child will typically associate their negative memories with dental visits, which can create reoccurring problems and can have threaten their future health. This is another reason why scheduling a child’s first appointment when their first teeth appear can be beneficial. The child can ease into the process of dental examinations, and with the help of a caring and professional dentist, can learn to safely care for their teeth and mouth in a less intimidating and more enjoyable way.
At your childʼs first dental visit, he or she will be introduced to the the Autumn Dental team members and Dr. Allen, as well as instruments and processes. Theyʼll sit in the chair, either by themselves or on your lap. Research and experience has shown the importance of familiarizing your child with new environments and building trust in a non-threatening way, and dentist visits are no exception.
Once your child is comfortable in the chair, Dr. Allen will do a quick examination to check for decay and check your child’s gums, jaw, and bite. As long as your child remains comfortable and relaxed, Dr. Allen will check for bottle caries, frenum issues, or other problems that may affect teeth or speech patterns. Dr. Allen will also discuss oral hygiene practices with your child to introduce him to the dental vocabulary and get them comfortable communicating with the doctor.
After your childʼs first visit, it is recommended that children come in every six months for a healthy mouth. At each visit, Dr. Allen will introduce new dental procedures to your child. For example, counting your child’s teeth, or brushing them with polishing paste. The goal is that by the time your child is around three years old, they will be comfortable with full dental appointments. If your child is comfortable with full dental visits, the dentist will be able to take X-rays around five years to check for crucial signs of jaw and tooth development.
Looking for your Child’s First Dentist?
At Autumn Dental, we specialize in pediatric care! Come see us in Hendersonville for a comfortable and fun dentist appointment!