As a parent, it is your responsibility to ensure your child’s optimal oral health. You should explain to your child the importance of regular dental visits. Whether it is their first, second, or third time, it is important to get them enthusiastic during each trip to the dental clinic.
If it is your child’s first visit to the dental clinic, there may be a few questions and concerns in your mind that need some answer. Let us explore them.
At What Age Should a Child Go to the Dentist for the First Time?
Many parents often wonder when to bring their child to the dentist for the first time — at 4 years old, 5, or 6? Your child’s first dental checkup should be much earlier than you think.
The first dental visit should happen as early as your kid’s first tooth becomes visible. You should never wait until all their teeth come in or until a dental problem arises. Here’s why:
The Importance of Early Dental Visits
The first visit is all about getting children used to the dental chair and teaching parents about the proper care for their baby’s teeth. It helps your child become familiar with the staff and the dental office environment in a friendly, non-threatening way. Even if their teeth have not fully erupted, it allows the dentist to check your child’s teeth, gums, jaw, and bite.
Your kid’s transition from a baby bottle to a cup and not drinking or eating in the middle of the night means a one-year pass until age 2. This is when you need to bring them for a standard bi-annual dental visit. Prevention of tooth cavities is critical during infancy until age 12. The risk for dental caries and discolouration are common childhood dental issues. Dentists need to keep an eye on early signs of decay and provide immediate treatment to stop it from progressing.
While it may seem unlikely, your child can be at risk of tartar due to their diet. Knowing what age your child should get their first dental cleaning helps keep their teeth healthy and clean. The first dental cleaning usually happens when most of your baby’s teeth have erupted (between 12 to 36 months). Regular dental exams during the toddler years enable the dentist to find and get rid of plaque and tartar buildup before it causes more serious problems.
Getting Your Kid Excited About Going to the Dentist
The benefits of dental visits to your child’s oral health cannot be discounted, but not many kids consider dental trips fun. Even some adults may find sitting on a dental chair uncomfortable. However, as a parent, being a good role model can impact your kid’s mindset about dental health. Kids always mimic their parents’ behaviour. Showing enthusiasm about oral health can influence your child’s perspective in keeping their teeth healthy.
You may wonder “how do I calm my child before a dentist appointment?” Luckily, there are a few helpful tips to make your little one’s trip to the dentist a positive experience.
- Start at Home
Children follow their parent’s behaviour. Visiting your family dentist regularly shows them that there is nothing to worry about. If you are looking forward to every dental visit, your kids will do too. Providing your kids with books and toys about teeth and the dentist help teach them about good oral health and alleviate their anxiety. Using these helpful resources can warm your children up to the idea of dental checkups.
- Allow Children to Make Small Decisions
Most kids love to brush their teeth with flavoured toothpaste, instead of mint-flavoured ones. However, make sure the toothpaste is Canadian Dental Association-approved and contains fluoride to keep their teeth healthy and strong.
Allow them to make small decisions about their oral health, such as choosing their toothbrush and toothpaste flavour (strawberry, bubble gum, and blueberry). However, always supervise them when brushing their teeth. Use only a tiny smear of toothpaste (about the size of a rice grain) and teach them the proper brushing technique. Once they reach age 4, give them a pea-sized amount of toothpaste since they are able to spit the foam. Make sure to check that there is no plaque at the gum line to prevent tartar and tooth decay.
- Keep a Dental Report Card
Negative reinforcement, like warning them about not brushing their teeth and saying that eating too many sweets can make their teeth fall out, can backfire. Scare tactics can only cause anxiety during dental checkups.Instead, make a dental report card that they can show to the dentist on how well they have been taking care of their teeth. This can effectively get them excited about their dental trip.
- Let Them Wear Their Favourite Outfit
Letting kids choose what to wear can make them look forward during their dental trip. Whether they want to wear their superhero or princess outfit, it can make a world of difference. This can make kids at the dentist’s chair feel brave and confident.
- Make the Trip to the Dental Office Fun
Toddlers like fun games and activities, so why not do some fun games and activities during their trip to the clinic? Playing car games that promote communication can help ease tension. You can also play some fun games, like “I Spy” in the waiting room. Allow kids to bring their favourite toy or show their dental report card to the dentist.
- Talk About the Dental Visit Ahead of Time
It is crucial to prepare children for their first dental appointment. When they’re old enough, talk to them through the process. Tell them how a dentist can help keep their teeth healthy and their smile beautiful. The first dental appointment is not a good time to talk about cavities, tooth extractions, injections, and pain.
- Give Them Rewards
Rewarding your child after the dental visit can make children feel good about themselves. Praise your child for being brave during the checkup and for taking good care of their oral health. Avoid reacting negatively; instead, be positive about their experience. Get your child something special — treat them to their favourite restaurant or buy them a new toy.
Bringing your kid to a friendly pediatric dentist can make a good impression on their dental visit. A friendly dentist can easily develop a relationship with kids.
At Simcoe Smile Dental, we understand that children need a gentle touch. In addition to our team of friendly dental professionals, we have a warm and inviting treatment room with television, a wide selection of books, magazines, and game consoles to ensure children a positive dental experience.
Give us a call today at (905) 728-2321 to book an appointment with our kid dentist in Oshawa.