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Preparing for Your Child’s First Dental Visit

The American Academy of Pediatric of Dentistry (and most pediatric dentists) recommend a child’s first dental visit take place after the first tooth appears, but no later than 12 months of age. If your child is a bit older than that, don’t worry; it’s never too late to start seeing the dentist. Generally, the earlier you start, the better it is. That way, your kid can get used to seeing the dentist on a regular basis and build a positive association with the dentist early on. Keep reading to learn more about what to expect during your child’s first dental checkup!

Understanding the Difference Between a Children’s Dentist and General Dentists

If you’re looking for a good dentist for children, there are probably several things you’re considering. Besides ensuring your child’s teeth are cared for, you’ll want your child to be comfortable around their dentist and to have a good experience. While making this decision, one common question parents often ask is, “Should I take my child to a family dentist or a pediatric dentist?” Though it may be tempting to take your child to your own family dentist, there are several things to first consider.

While your general dentist may be friendly and patient, they likely don’t have extensive experience with dentistry for children. Pediatric dentists, like Drs. Sorensen and Wing, undergo an additional two to three years of dental education and are specially trained to provide dental care to kids. This training teaches them how to deal with children’s behavior, make kids feel comfortable, and treat the unique oral health needs and issues of children — making them the best dentist for kids.

Scheduling Your First Appointment with The Kid Dentist

Whether your toddler has a mouth full of teeth or only a few poking through, it’s never too soon to start thinking about dental health. Though baby teeth don’t hang around forever, it’s still important to keep those tiny teeth — and gums — in tip-top shape while waiting for adult teeth.

Generally speaking, you can expect your child’s first dental appointment to be short and informal — think of it as a meet-and-greet for your child and the dentist. With young children, you may be asked to hold them while our dentist checks their teeth and gums. This is to ensure they can stay relatively still while we take a peek at their mouth.

Depending on your child, this visit may include a full exam of the teeth, jaws, bite, gums, and oral tissues to check growth and development. If needed, your child may also have a gentle cleaning. This can include polishing teeth and removing any plaque, tartar, and stains.

Once your child’s dental exam is finished, our dentists will talk to you about good oral-hygiene habits and give you the chance to ask any questions you may have.

Tips for Your Child’s First Dental Exam

Some little ones have anxiety about medical and dental checkups, and their fears are completely understandable. With young children, it’s important to be patient and let him know you recognize how they feel. To help alleviate dental anxiety for kids, here are a few tactics to try before and during the appointment.

Headline: Learn About the Dentist at Home
Sub-headline: Children often learn best by demonstration so consider reading picture books about visiting the dentist and encourage your toddler to “play dentist” with a doll or plush animal. Once they’re comfortable with that, consider having them play fun games like “Simon Says” that encourage them to open and close their mouth by instruction or smile big.

Headline: Bring a Comfort Item
Sub-headline: Comfort items, like toys or a favorite blanket, can be helpful distractions for a nervous child. Consider allowing your little one to bring a favorite item with them to help ease any anxiety they may have.

Grab a Morning Appointment, If Possible

Kids are typically most rested in the morning times. If possible, bring your kid into the dental office in the earlier part of the day for a better chance at a brighter, happier mood. After they’ve been up for a few hours, they can become cranky, especially if the appointment is in the later part of the afternoon or near nap time.

Make Your Child’s First Dental Exam a Positive Experience

Kids feed off our energy. So, if they see a loved one stressing out about dental appointments and expressing disgust with brushing and flossing, they’ll likely associate those feelings with dental care as well. That’s why it’s important to make your child’s first dental visit a positive experience. Contact us today to learn more about introducing your child to their pediatric dentist!

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