While most adults hate going to the dentist it can be even worse for children, who are unable to comprehend just how important dental health is. Regular dental care is especially important, however, for young children. According to the American Dental Association a child’s first dental appointment should be within six months of their first tooth appearing and no later than the first birthday. So what goes on at this first dental appointment? The dentist will examine your child’s baby teeth to see if there are already signs of decay or health issues, including the risk of these problems in the future. He will begin to show you the proper ways to clean your child’s teeth before they come to the age where they can do it themselves. You will also have time to ask questions about building good dental habits, including what to do in instances of thumb sucking and misuse of sippy cups.
The Basics of Pediatric Dental Care
After your child’s first dentist appointment, he or she should continue to have regular check-ups at least every six months. In some cases, such as with children who are at increased risk of tooth decay, your child’s dentist may recommend more frequent visits.
Regular dentist appointments can help reduce your child’s chances of having cavities since his teeth will be cleaned to remove plaque build-up and a fluoride treatment will be applied to strengthen the enamel of the teeth. The dentist will also examine your child’s teeth, jawbones, and oral tissues to check for any potential problems.
Sometimes children will need to have a cavity filled or other dental work done, which may seem pointless since the baby teeth will eventually fall out. But dental work is necessary even for kids who still have their primary or baby teeth, since cavities can be painful, and healthy baby teeth are important to help your child chew food, speak properly, and guide permanent teeth into their proper position.
Making Kids’ Dentist Appointments More Pleasant
As a parent you can help calm your child’s nerves and make each dentist appointment go more smoothly. The better experience your children have the more they will want to take care of their teeth, leading to overall good oral health.
Try these steps to help your child feel at ease about going to the dentist:
Choose a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists are specially trained to calm anxious children. The offices of pediatric dentists are also often designed to be especially welcoming to children and have posters, toys, and special flavors.
Talk about the visit in advance. In a relaxed setting, calmly discuss the upcoming dentist visit with your child. Explain what might happen at the appointment and that the dentist can help keep your child’s teeth healthy.
Schedule a preview. If your child is visiting the dentist’s office for the first time, ask if it is okay to stop by before the actual appointment. This will give your child the chance to get comfortable in the new surroundings before the check-up.
Stay close. It can help your child to have you nearby during the dental appointment.