How to Prepare Your Child for Their First Dental Visit

Getting your child to the dentist early in life makes them more likely to be comfortable with dental treatments later on in life.

Though it might seem simple to some, there is a significant amount of confusion surrounding oral care for young children. Some people believe in early care, while others don’t make it a priority until the child is much older. Unfortunately, the latter can lead to severe health complications. The best strategy for a parent is to start practicing good habits and find a St. Louis pediatric dentist as soon as possible.

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Worrying about your child’s first visit to the dentist is perfectly natural. After all, many adults still feel anxious when going to the dentist, especially because they fear the procedures’ potential pain. So it’s not uncommon for parents to worry about their child’s first dental appointment. However, you should know that planning for it is far more simple than you may think.

How to Prepare Your Child for the Dentist

child's first dental visit

Take Them in at the Right Time

The rule of thumb in the pediatric dental community is that a child should see a dentist for the first time after either their first tooth or first birthday. While it may seem silly to take a child into the dentist when they have few or no teeth, it is a really good idea. What it does is ensure that your child’s teeth and jaw are developing as they should. Additionally, getting your child to the dentist early in their lives makes them more likely to be comfortable in dental treatments later on in life.

Practice Brushing and Flossing

Once your child’s first tooth comes in, you can start a preliminary oral health routine. It will look a bit different at different ages, but that generally means brushing with a soft bristle toothbrush and lightly flossing. If your child has no teeth yet, you can wipe their gums with a piece of gauze twice a day. These responsible practices will do two things when you go to the dentist. First, your child will have excellent oral health and get a positive review from the dentist. Second, they will understand what proper care is before the dentist ever explains it to them.

Record Oral Health Habits

The first thing you should record is brushing and flossing habits. This is something that the dentist will want, so it is best that you have that information on hand. Second, you should take stock of what your child eats. If they have a diet that is acidic or high in sugar, the dentist will want to know. Last, pay attention to any habits, like thumb sucking, that might affect oral health. Once you have all this information, you can give the dentist an accurate report.

Compile Any Allergies or Medical Conditions

Every time you see a doctor, they should ask you about any allergies or medical conditions you might have. The same goes for your pediatric dentist. Before bringing your child in, make sure you know this information.

Go for a Tour of the Office

The dentist’s office can be a scary place even for adults. You want to go with a dentist that has created an environment that is appealing to children and can make them feel more comfortable from the moment they step in. To help them ease in, you can book a tour of the office before the child’s dental appointment to become more comfortable with the environment and even the team.

Show Them Content About Going to the Dentist

Children learn a lot from books or cartoons, so a good way to present to them the dentist’s office’s world is to expose them to this type of material before their appointment. This way, you can also answer any questions they may have about the process if they’re older.

Bring Something to Comfort Them

The parents can, of course, sit in with the child during their dental appointment, but having mommy or daddy there may not be enough to relax the child. Consider bringing something extra that could bring them comfort, such as their favorite toy or a blanket they really love.

Promise a Reward

Children can respond better during the dental appointment if they know that afterward, they are in for a treat, like ice cream or a trip to the zoo right after the appointment is over. This also helps clarify that going to the dentist is not a punishment!

St. Louis Pediatric Dentist

Choosing the right dental office for your child is extremely important. If you choose wisely, you can start a relationship that will last for years to come.

Call Us Today

The only board-certified dental anesthesiologist in Missouri, including St. Louis.

Updated: December 1, 2022

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