How to Prepare Your Child for Their First Time Dentist Visit

First Time Dentist Visit

Dental health is very important, not only for adults, but, children as well. It may be even more important for children to have the best dental hygiene possible because those teeth that are “just baby teeth” may fall out but, the permanent teeth are right under them and can be affected even before they come through.

Many new and seasoned parents have many questions about dental health for their kids. Things like “At what age do I need to start taking them?”, and “How do I prepare my child for their first time dentist visit?”. These things have probably crossed your mind a time or two when it comes to your child’s dental health. Here are some tips to make this exciting milestone a bit easier on everyone.

Preparing your Child for their First Time Dentist Visit

How to Prepare Your Child for Their First Time Dentist Visit

Let’s start at the beginning: “When do I need to start brushing my little ones teeth?”

As soon as your little one will let you get your finger in their mouth you can start with the soft brushes that slip over your finger and just gently massage their gums.

Toddlers are a new challenge when it comes to teeth brushing. They usually prefer to do it by themselves which is fine but, make sure it is part of the routine for you to  do it after them. At this age any little bit is better than nothing. Just be consistent with them.

Now you are thinking: “But when do I need to start taking my child to the dentist?” Great question! 

The answer to this varies greatly depending on the dental office you plan to visit. When reading many parenting books you will read that you are supposed to rush them off to the dentist at the first sign of a tooth.  Other books suggest waiting until they are between the ages of 2 and 4.  The varying answers makes it difficult to pinpoint an exact answer.

The best way to find the answer to this question is do your research.

I find the best recommendations for things like this come through word of mouth so ask your friends, coworkers, neighbors, even your child’s pediatrician can be helpful.

Once you have come to a conclusion, I suggest you call the preferred clinic and 1) if they are accepting new patients, 2) if they take your type of dental insurance and 3) When do they suggest a child is brought in for their first visit.


Some prefer to see them around 6 months to a year. Yet, others say wait until they are between 3 and 4 years of age because by that point they can usually sit still and will allow them to look in their mouths without a much of a fight. 

Is the clinic used to working with kids?

For our kids we chose to take them to a pediatric dentist. There are also family dentists as well. Whichever you choose, be sure they are familiar with kids and have the tools needed to work in their mouths. A child’s mouth is much smaller than an adults so, smaller tools are needed and not every office has those specific tools.

“What do I do if the clinic doesn’t see them until they are older?”

If the dental clinic you chose for your children prefers to wait until they are a bit older for their first visit I highly suggest that you do your own inspections at home.

This means taking the time to look in your child’s mouth for any signs of decay (dark spots), gum swelling or spots that they may be missing when brushing. (Hint: the molar area). 

If your child is complaining of mouth or tooth pain or bleeding gums while brushing it is important to get them  seen by a dentist as soon as you can, even if it before the desired age for a first visit. 

This, just like many other new things can be scary for kids. To make it an easy transition you can pick up a few children’s books at the local library about going to the dentist. Read them with your child, taking the time to look at the pictures and explain what is happening. 

Try to keep the subject light and fun. I also recommend not using the words “hurt, pain or scared” as even if these words are said in a manner to reassure your child. Those words are all that will stick out in your child’s mind when it comes time for the visit.

The first dental visit …

When it comes time for the first time dentist visit it is usually a meet and greet with the hygienists and dentist. They can see and sometimes hold the tools that may be used. You can’t forget about the ride in the chair too. 

At our Children’s Dentist they lay the child back in the chair and try to put the tools in their mouth and look around. I love that they are gentle and don’t force a child to do something they are not comfortable with.

 

Since it is a new experience many kids still get a bit scared.  My littlest was a little scared and whining a bit during his first visit. I reassured him that I was right there by holding his arm. Doing this let him know that I was right there and made him feel more comfortable.

Even talking about it before the actual visit, your child may still be a bit nervous. Be sure to reassure them during the visit that it isn’t a scary thing and let them know you are close by. Those two things together can make it a more enjoyable visit for both of you.

If you stay consistent with the visits it will become part of the normal routine and also, becomes much less scary each time.

Tooth Fairy

Sometime between the ages of 4 and 7 most kids get their first wiggly tooth. Once that first tooth is the slightest bit wiggly your little one (if they are anything like mine was) will be so excited about the Tooth Fairy’s first visit. 

This milestone is so exciting for them and their dentist will share in their excitement too.

tooth image

Upon finding out our daughter had lost her first tooth just hours before her appointment the dentist gave us a cute plastic tooth shaped container to keep the tooth in. I am not sure if all dentists do this but, you can sure ask at your clinic.
Once that tooth finally falls out having a container of some sort makes it so much easier for the Tooth Fairy to find the lost tooth. In our house we have a lot of fun with the Tooth Fairy. We print certificates and the Tooth fairy leaves fun notes too. Our daughter also writes notes to the Tooth Fairy to leave with her tooth.

Here is a FREE printable certificate you can print and record the exciting event. Then, put in a safe place for your child to look back on later.

If we are honest here though, sometimes the tooth fairy forgets to come. This happens frequently in our house. Here are some reasons she/he may have forgotten to come.

Also, check out these posts

Ask a Nurse: The Top 10 Things Dentists Want You to Know
10 Reasons The Tooth Fairy Forgot To Come Last Night
Free Printable Tooth Fairy Letters

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    Stephanie Shields

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