Oral Care Tips for Parents

Preparing Your Child for Their First Dental Exam

If you’re thinking about your child’s first visit to the dentist, good for you! It’s never too early to start a routine of good dental health. After all, seemingly in just the blink of an eye, your little one will be grown and old enough to recognize the importance of beautiful, healthy teeth.

Of course, there are a lot of years in between before that happens, and it’s likely your child might eventually have some resistance to dental care, but if you kick off the relationship early so that your child learns to trust his/her pediatric dentist, you’ve already made a huge step in the right direction.

When is it time for the first dental exam?

Chances are you’ll see those first tiny teeth poking through your baby’s gums at somewhere between 3 and 6 months old though it could certainly be later. Don’t fret if it is! Nevertheless, a good rule of thumb is to set up your baby’s first dental exam within about 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth or no later than when he or she is a year old.

While you may wonder why you should visit your pediatric dentist at such a young age, think about the things that already impact your baby’s mouth, even if you’re still breastfeeding and they’re not eating a lot of solids yet.

At the first dental exam your dentist can discuss topics such as:

Healthy foods for baby’s teeth
• Pacifier habits
• Baby bottle tooth decay
• Cleaning your baby’s teeth and mouth
Teething
Thumb and finger sucking

Preparing your baby (and yourself) for the visit

When considering appointment scheduling, it’s best to think about when your little one is happiest and most rested during the day, and then schedule your appointment for that time period. For babies, it’s often fairly early in the morning. That might be the case for toddlers and preschoolers as well. So, consider a morning appointment, if possible, right after they’ve had a good night’s sleep. If they go to pre-school or daycare, don’t bring them after an already long day away from home.

If you are bringing a toddler or pre-school child to the dentist for the first time, take some time to talk to them about what will happen during their exam. Tell them about the job of a dentist, explain the instruments they might see, and tell them how important it is to take care of their teeth.

You might even find a book about going to the dentist that you can read with them several times before they go! Above all, be sure to keep your chat upbeat and excited, even if you have a personal fear of the dentist.

If you do indeed approach your own dental visits with trepidation, it’s important that you do everything in your power not to pass those fears or dislikes to your child. As you enter the office, stay positive and keep calm.

It’s very easy for a small child to pick up on your negative vibes, so if you don’t think you can remain calm and encouraging, consider sending your spouse or partner with your child instead.

Talking to your dentist

While it’s likely your pediatric dentist has worked with a variety of children with different temperaments and challenges, by all means, if there’s something you think the dentist needs to know about your child, such as a problem with extreme anxiety or any sort of behavior issue, talk to him/her in advance.

It’s essential that communication between you and your child and your child’s dentist be solid from the start.

We would love to begin the journey of dental health for your child here at Anchorage Pediatric Dentistry.

Please call us at (907)562-1003 to schedule an appointment today!

Dr. Easte Warnick DDS

Dr. Easte Warnick received a degree in Geology from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2001. After working as a geologist for Los Alamos National Laboratory and Bechtel SAIC, she returned to school and completed dental training at the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in 2012.

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