Taking your child to the dentist may seem like something you're not ready for, but it may be the right time to take your child to his or her first dental visit. Even though your child's baby teeth will fall out and be replaced with permanent teeth, you still need to have your child's teeth properly cared for by a professional dentist.
Most dentists recommend taking your child to the dentist between the ages of one and two. Although this may seem young, it's important for two main reasons. First, since your child is already starting to develop teeth, it's a good idea to have them looked at by a dentist to ensure they're coming in properly and that there are no other issues. Also, it's good to have your child see the dentist at a young age because it gets him or her accustomed to going, which could help to eliminate some of the fear and tantrums regularly associated with a child's first visit to the dentist.
Before you go to the dentist, it's important that you first make the right dental choice for your child. Most parents opt to take their children to their own dentist since they already have a relationship and trust the individual. This is completely fine. However, if your dentist doesn't have experience dealing with children, then you may want to find a pediatric dentist instead. Pediatric dentists have more experience with younger children and typically know how to best control the tantrums and fear.
If you're planning your child's first trip, here are a few things you and your child can expect at the dentist.
Getting to Know You
Your child's first visit to the dentist will likely be short and sweet. In fact, most of the visit will be your child and your dentist meeting and getting to know one another. Your dentist will talk with your child about what he or she can expect while there, and they will also be willing to answer any questions you or your child may have. This introduction usually helps your child warm up to the dentist and put his or her mind at ease about the upcoming experience.
Your child's dentist will then usually perform an oral exam. Depending on your child's age, the dentist may have your child sit in your lap for this procedure. The dentist will examine your child's teeth for signs of tooth decay as well as look at the teeth and gum line. This is usually done with a small mirror placed in your child's mouth to help the dentist see everything. Your dentist may also require your child to have teeth x-rays, but this will depend on your child's age and your dentist.
Sometimes during a first visit (mostly depending on how your child is acting), your dentist or the hygienist will perform a cleaning. During this procedure, your child will get to choose which flavor of "toothpaste" the dentist will use, and the dentist will explain the type of "toothbrush" they will use as well so that the child isn't scared of the noise or tingling feeling. Also depending on your child's age, the dentist may or may not do a fluoride treatment on your child's teeth.
Once that initial visit is done, your child's dentist will make you aware of any concerns or issues they have noticed as well as when to schedule your child's next visit.