Your child’s first visit to the dentist sets the tone for a lifetime of future appointments, so it’s important for them to have a positive experience.
Most parents will have chosen a family dentist for their child by the time they’re a year old. The first visit steers the child toward the right path for dental care, so it’s important to alleviate stress and fear.
According to the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the baby’s first appointment should ideally be within the first six months after the first tooth appears. Primary teeth, especially the two front upper and lower teeth, begin to come in when the child is between six-12 months old. A baby’s primary teeth are just as important as their permanent (adult) teeth. Primary teeth hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth which are growing under the gums. Strong, healthy baby teeth will help your child chew and speak.
So, the less fuss concerning their dentist’s visit, the better. Don’t use words that could cause the child to become afraid, such as needle, shot, drill, pull or hurt. Your dentist and staff are trained to use words that may mean the same thing, but are less likely to cause fear.
Let your child know that it’s okay to ask their dentist and staff questions. They will be happy to explain big words and procedures that kids might be unfamiliar with.
Parents are usually welcome to stay with children during their first visit, but siblings and other children should stay in the waiting room under the supervision of an adult. Your dentist and staff wants to gain your child’s confidence and help them overcome apprehension, so parents who go into the exam room are encouraged to allow the dentist and staff communicate with the child.
It helps to compliment the child after their first visit is over and maybe even give them a reward and celebrate a little. One way might be to buy them a fancy new toothbrush with their favorite cartoon character on it. A small gift might be the perfect way to express your pride in them.
Todd McAdams, D.D.S.
420 Rocky Knob Lane