Your Child’s First Dental Visit

Kids Dental Specialists wants every child to have a positive dental experience the first time and every time they go. We want children to grow up understanding the importance of dental care and having a healthy mouth. Like so many other things, this nurturing of positivity starts at home.

Cute baby in gray onesie lying on blue blanket next to giant white tooth

Success Starts At Home

The best thing you can do to prepare your child for their first dental appointment is to communicate a positive message. Begin early training by exhibiting positive energy regarding oral care. And remember that if you feel stress about your child’s dental appointment, they will too.

According to The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), children should typically have their first pediatric dental visit around one year of age. Pediatric dentists receive extensive training in child psychology as part of their educational curriculum. The dental staff are supportive and encouraging, and the offices usually provide educational games and toys. Your child’s well being is the highest priority and you can feel confident they are in good hands.

Encourage positive attidues by reading these dentist-approved books to your child:

“Elmo Visits the Dentist” (Sesame Street)

“Show Me Your Smile! A Visit to the Dentist” (Dora the Explorer)

“The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist”, Stan and Jan Berenstain

“Going to the Dentist”, Anne Civardi

Elmo Visits the Dentist book cover Show Me Your Smile Dora the Explorer book cover The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist book cover Going to the Dentist book cover

Preparing For Your Child’s First Visit

As your child approaches the age for a first dental cleaning, start making plans and asking for support from loved ones as necessary to help prevent stress or anxiety.

  • Explain who dentists are and what they do, but try to keep it simple and positive. For instance, you can say, “Dentists are doctors that keep our mouths and teeth healthy.”
  • Provide explanations that include positive phrases like “healthy mouth” and “strong teeth”. Avoid trigger words like “needles” and “injections”, including when you refer to your own dental experiences. During the visit the doctors and staff will do the same.
  • Plan to leave other children at home in order to avoid potential distraction and stress.
  • Plan to bring another adult with you. Infants and small children can be fussy during the dental exam. Having an additional adult who can soothe the infant enables you to speak with the dentist and ask questions.
  • Compose a list of questions and concerns for the visit and bring it with you.

During Your Child’s First Dental Visit

The initial visit has several goals, but the main purpose is to establish a foundation. The dentist needs to evaluate your child’s mouth, gums, any existing teeth, and bone development. You and the dentist will discuss all relevant medical history, and any questions or concerns. The dentist will develop and recommend an oral care routine specific to your child’s teeth, habits, and needs.

At this time you can also discuss your child’s first dental cleaning or pediatric dental checkup. The dentist may make recommendations for certain toothbrushes, toys, sippy cups, or other items to encourage good oral health.

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