How to Prepare Your Child for Their First Dental Appointment
The American Dental Association recommends you bring your child for a dental visit within six months of his or her first tooth erupting.
That may seem young, but it’s important to start early, especially since 1 out of every 4 American preschoolers has had at least one cavity by the age of four. Some children get cavities as young as two and others are even having root canals and teeth crowns. You can read more about the prevalence of childhood cavities in this New York Times article.
Since your child will be quite young during the first dental visit, you’ll need to take time to prepare your son or daughter for the appointment. Here are some tips from our St Pete dental office that are great for young children of various ages.
Talk to your child about what’s going to happen at the dentist. Use terms he or she can understand and refrain from talking about treatments that might sound scary. Don’t mention shots or drills or anything else that might make your child dread the first visit.
Reading books about visiting the dentist will help prepare your child. Use story time to start a conversation about going to the dentist for the first time. Some good books to try are:
- “Brush, Brush, Brush” by Alicia Padron
- “Doctor De Soto” by William Steig,
- “Just Going to the Dentist” by Mercer Mayer
- “Sammy the Centipede Goes to the Dentist” by Maria Luchsinger.
Playing through scenarios is a great way to make kids more comfortable with new experiences. Play “dentist” by using toothbrushes, flashlights and cups for rinsing. Let stuffed animals or dolls be “patients” who come to the dentist for a checkup. Give your child a turn being the patient, the dentist and the parents.
Be a Good Role Model
First, let your kids see your brushing and flossing each and every day. They’ll understand the importance of good oral hygiene if mom or dad models it for them. And if you’re a little bit afraid of the dentist, don’t let your kids know it. Studies have shown that fear of the dentist is passed down from parents to children. You might even bring your child with you for your next exam and cleaning. He or she is welcomed to sit on your lap and watch our hygienists and dentists work.
Gather a Health History
Make sure you provide our staff with information about your child’s health conditions, if any. Bring a list of any medications he or she takes. You should also bring your pediatrician’s and any other provider’s contact information too in the event we need to request more health records.
Ready to schedule your child’s first appointment? Use our online form to request an appointment.