Dental Dialogues – A Child’s First Visit To The Dentist
For many children, their first visit to the family Dentist is an important milestone, one that some parents even keep a record of if they journal, record, or take pictures of their children and store them in some type of “memory album.” At Eglinton Square Dental Centre, we’ve been looking after families for years and we know how important this first visit can be. It will set the tone for future dental appointments, and we know that parents want the experience to be a pleasant one. If it’s time for your child’s first visit to the Dentist, we have some tips on how to make the visit a positive one for everyone!
How old should my child be when we first visit the dentist?
– Babies usually start teething between 7 – 9 months of age. Some teeth arrive a little earlier and for some children, you might not see teeth until they approach their first birthday. The Canadian Dental Association recommends that you bring your child in at that time so the dentist can have a quick look around to assess any early signs of cavity development, teeth crowding, and whether molars are erupting. At this visit, your child may be able to sit comfortably on your lap while we gently explore. Believe it or not, cavities can start this early. We will use this first visit to demonstrate – mostly to the parents – how to help your baby take care of their teeth.
– Generally speaking, after that visit, you’ll want to schedule something every six months if that’s available to you.
– Most children will have their first full set of primary teeth between the ages of 2 ½ to 3 years old and that’s around the time you’ll want to consider scheduling a longer “first” visit.
What should I expect when we see the dentist?
At this longer visit, our primary goal is to make the experience of visiting the dentist as pleasant as possible. Along with you, we hope to introduce your child to dental visits as just another routine part of their schedule, not something to be feared. Some of the things you can do to help the experience go smoothly are:
– Schedule your appointment for a time your child is not typically tired and ready for a nap.
– Ensure your young one has had a light meal or snack and isn’t thirsty or hungry – after all, we all get a little “hangry” when we’re hungry!
– Talk to your little one before the visit, several times in fact. Share with them a little bit about what they might see, and hear, while at the dental office. For some children, loud noises can result in sensory overload. By preparing them ahead of time that they may hear some different sounds so they won’t be caught off guard.
– Preparing your child might also include a conversation around what a dentist does. If your child is already familiar with a family doctor, use age-appropriate language to explain a dentist is a doctor who specifically helps keep our teeth clean and healthy.
– There are quite a number of books available at your local library or bookstore that talk about visiting the dentist. You may want to share some reading time together.
– Speaking of stories, if you have any family or culturally based myths or tales about a “tooth fairy” you may also want to introduce these stories too. If your child has an older sibling, enroll them in the conversations about dentists and tooth fairy tales. You might even be able enlist their help in “teaching” good brushing habits to your little one.
What we will do when you visit us.
For a child’s first visit we keep things pretty simple. Depending on their comfort level, they can sit in the big chair themselves or we may invite you to sit with them on your lap. We’ll talk about what we are going to do and that will include things like counting the number of teeth your child has, taking a little look around to ensure no issues are developing and depending on the age and cooperation of your little one, we may do a gentle teeth cleaning at the same time.
Keeping teeth clean and practicing good oral health care at home are an important part of your child’s early development. By demonstrating brushing at home; scheduling visits with our team to have cleanings and check ups done regularly, and talking about the dentist, the “tooth fairy” benefits (if that’s a tradition you follow) and enrolling older siblings in the conversation, you will be establishing a routine for your child that should help to eliminate any fear and encourage good oral health care. When scheduling your appointment with our helpful front office team be sure to mention it’s your little ones first visit so we’ll be prepared too! We look forward to welcoming your little one into our practice here at Eglinton Square Dental Centre.