Instilling the habit of good oral hygiene and dental checkups at an early age has many benefits that will help your child. Ideally, you should take your child to the dentist six months after his or her first tooth erupts.
Taking your child to the dentist after the eruption of his first teeth will help you learn how to brush his teeth effectively, the quantity of toothpaste to use and any potential fluoride needs specific to your child.
Also, taking your child to the dentist from an early age makes him comfortable with the dentist, and he/she grows up with a positive attitude towards dentists.
This article will outline steps as to how you can mentally prepare yourself and your child for his first dental visit.
How to prepare yourself for the first visit?
As a parent, you need to stay calm and not panic, and you should have full faith in your dentist. If you want to take your child to a pediatric dentist, then you can ask your friends to recommend a dentist with whom they have had a good experience.
Ask your dentist as to what he will do during the visit. Any instruction from the dentist will help you prepare mentally. Carry all medical reports of your child to the dentist.
If your child is fussy and doesn’t sit in one place for too long, try to explain to him the procedure using euphemisms and build up his excitement level.
What will happen during the first visit?
The first visit is usually to get the child acquainted to the atmosphere of the dental clinic and build a rapport with the dentist (this will happen one appointment at a time). If your child is not co-operative, then the first visit will be short with a reschedule in tow.
You need to be calm and confident to be able to help your child be relaxed and stress-free. The rapport that your child builds with the dentist during his dental visits will help in the future when he/she needs any treatment.
By that time he will be very comfortable with his dentist and will allow the dentist to work on his teeth.
Dentists advise parents to schedule the appointment of their child earlier in the day. Early morning is the time when your child is fresh and active.
If your child is less than 36 months of age, then you will have to sit in the dental chair with your child in your lap.
If your child can sit on his own and doesn’t need help, then your dentist may ask you to wait in the reception while he does the checkup and treatment.
What comprises the first dental checkup?
If your child is cooperative, then the dentist will –
- Check the condition of the teeth, jaws, and gums while also taking note of any problem areas.
- If there is any plaque, the dentist will do a round of cleaning and polishing to remove plaque and tartar.
- Take x-rays if he has any doubt about any particular tooth.
- Show you how to take care of his teeth at home (brushing technique, etc.)
- Assess the fluoride requirement of your child in case teeth seem prone to decay.
If you have any questions, you can always ask, and the dentist should answer all your queries. Also, the dentist and the staff need to make the environment non-threatening for your child.
When should you take your child for the second visit?
The second visit will be after six months if everything goes well in the first visit which means your child was cooperative, and the dentist could do the full mouth check-up along with treatment.
If your child is non-cooperative, then the dentist will fix the second appointment earlier than six months, usually at the three months mark.
Home dental care
Visiting the dentist is not enough, you also need to take care of your child’s teeth at home. Brushing your child’s teeth from an early age helps imbibe a good habit which will help him all his life.
Before the eruption of teeth, you should clean his gums and tongue with a damp cloth after each feeding. Home care steps you can follow after the eruption of teeth are –
- Brush your child’s teeth using water and a soft toothbrush. Ask your dentist if you can use fluoride-based toothpaste before the age of two.
- Taper milk bottle and breastfeeding by the end of the first year of age and also don’t let him suck on pacifiers or sweet juice during naptime. These habits may cause tooth decay.
- During the night, let him try brushing first and then you could finish the procedure for him. This way he learns how to brush his teeth and also is excited about brushing.
- The best way to teach children is when you lead them. While you hand over the brush to your child, you should brush your teeth with him.
Over to you
Anxious parents create a negative outlook towards the dental clinic, and such parents shouldn’t accompany the child. You need to be positive and calm if you want your child to become friendly with the dentist.
You can play dentist and patient at home to make your child comfortable. You can check each other’s teeth with a mirror and make dental visits a pleasant outing for your child.