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Is it your child’s first trip to the dentist? Things to know and do!

08 Dec , 2020

For toddlers, the first visit to the dentist can be a scary proposition. Loud noises, strange instruments and new faces can dismay even the most nonchalant 1-2-year-old. Plenty of careful preparation can actually make the first trip to the dentist fun.

Baby teeth don’t hang around forever. By the time your child is 6 or 7 they begin to fall out to make way for adult teeth. Even then, it’s important to keep those tiny teeth and gums healthy. To make sure they remain pearly white, first teach your toddler how to brush, then book a dentist’s appointment.

When to go to the dentist 

It might seem soon but when your toddler’s first tooth sprouts or around the 1-year mark is a good time to visit the dentist.

How to choose a dentist for your child

It’s important to have a positive attitude so that the little one feels comfortable and relaxed. Select a dental office that you are comfortable with.

  • Go to a paediatric dentist rather than going to your dentist. Unless of course, a sizeable portion of your dentists practice is for children.
  • At the dentist, observe how the staff handle children and only go further once you’re comfortable with all procedures
  • Keep an eye out for cleanliness – dental tools need to come in covers, gloves and masks need to be worn by the members of the staff etc.
  • It’s an added bonus if they have kid friendly facilities like dental rooms that are child oriented, positive behavioural reinforcement techniques, etc. which makes the process fun for the child.
  • Let the dentist know about the child’s medical history, sucking habits, etc.
  • Lastly, explain to the child what is going to take place.

What happens at the first dental visit?

The first visit to the dentist with your toddler is typically short and involves very little treatment. The toddler is given the opportunity to meet the dentist in a friendly way. Sometimes the dentist may ask to meet the child alone or with you. Depending on the situation, choose what makes you feel comfortable.

Coming to the inspection part, the dentist will check your child’s teeth decay, examine the bite, examine and see if there are any problems with the jaw, gums or oral tissues.

There are chances that your dentist will discuss with you about good oral hygiene habits for your toddler. Alternatively, you can ask any questions you have too.

Tips to make your child’s dentist visit easier

Before drawing the assumption that getting your toddler to the dentist’s chair will encompass either a bribe or a tantrum, keep in mind that your toddler does not harbour any hostility with regards to the dentist as yet. For a toddler, since they haven’t encountered the experience, they might feel it’s as much fun as going to the amusement park for all you know. Hence, keeping your negative feelings in check would be advocated and go along with the same enthusiasm your toddler poses.

Overcoming the fear of the dentist

There are those few toddlers who are afraid of dental check-ups. Their fears are completely understandable and all you need to do is be patient with your little patient. Here are a few tactics you can use:

  • Read books about visiting the dentist.
  • Encourage the child to play dentist with stuffed animals or dolls.
  • Explain in a positive way what a dentist does and do not get too much into technical detail.
  • Go prepared to the dentist with dolls, books etc. that comfort them.
  • Plan and keep a treat ready. Things like visiting the playground after the dentist will help the toddler stay focused.
  • Your own stress and anxiety can rub off on the child hence; you need to stay positive and relaxed.
  • Cheer the child whenever possible and be supportive. Remember, even if the child screams, kicks or cries it’s nothing the dentist hasn’t seen and experienced before.

How often to visit the dentist

Based on how your child’s teeth look, the dentist will tell you when to come next. Most often, every 6 months is a recommended time.

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