A child’s (and parent’s) life is full of important milestones. Some of them — first words, first steps and first tooth — are moments you’ll never forget. Others, like your child’s first dental appointment, might be less exciting but are just as important to his or her overall development. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) states that children should have their first dental appointment by their first birthday, or within six months after the eruption of the first tooth. At Children’s Dental Specialty, we agree that starting dental care at an early age can set your child up for lifelong oral health.
As pediatric dentists in Scottsdale and Phoenix, we’re experts in taking care of developing mouths starting from infancy. By giving us the opportunity to get a first look at your child’s mouth, early dental visits allow us to prevent issues from happening before they start and set the foundation for your child’s tooth development. It’s also a chance for us to create a positive relationship with your child from day one, so they’ll never be afraid of going to the dentist!
Is your baby’s first dental appointment coming up? Read on to learn how to prepare your child for their first visit to the dentist.
- Get Excited About Dentistry
We know that might be a tall order, but research shows that parents can pass their anxiety about going to the dentist on to their children. Kids pick up on everything, so if you talk about a not-so-great experience with your dentist, chances are your kids will be a bit nervous about their own visit too. Instead, start a positive dialogue about dentistry prior to your child’s first dentist appointment. Tell them what you love about the dentist and explain what they can expect in kid-friendly terms, so there will be minimal surprises when it’s time for their appointment.
- Read Kids’ Books About Going to the Dentist
There are plenty of children’s books and TV shows that are all about going to the dentist, with fun characters your child probably already recognizes (Peppa the Pig, anyone?). Having a friendly character to relate to can help lessen any fears they might have both before and during their appointment. Any time they start to get nervous, just remind them about the book or show so they know they’re perfectly safe.
- Let Your Child Play Dentist At Home
Before taking your child to the dentist for the first time, let them take charge by assuming the role of “dentist” themselves. Have them act as the dentist for their favorite stuffed animal or doll, and talk them through how a dentist gently cleans a patient’s teeth. Role playing not only makes the thought of going to the dentist more fun — it also gives your child a sense of control over an entirely new experience.
- Bring a Comfort Item to the Appointment
Talking to your child about visiting the dentist is one thing — actually going to the appointment can be a bit more challenging. Between bright lights, big machines and a stranger poking around in their mouth, visiting the dentist can be a lot for little ones to take in. As Scottsdale and Phoenix pediatric dentists, we specialize in working with kids of all ages and we always let your child set the pace to ensure that it’s a positive experience for you both. But if you think your little one will get nervous, bringing a comfort item (like a favorite toy, blanket or stuffed animal) can help keep your child calm and comfortable.
- Choose a Pediatric Dentistry Specialist
Many parents think they can simply take their children to see their own dentist, but that’s not the best approach when it comes to your child’s oral health. While a regular dentist is equipped to treat older mouths, they don’t have the specialty training to deal with the constant changes that children’s and babies’ mouths go through. Pediatric dentists, on the other hand, complete an additional two years of specialized training after dental school where they learn about all the nuances of treating kids from infancy through adolescence. After all, children’s teeth are rapidly developing every day, so they require the expert care that only pediatric dentists can provide.
Starting from their very first dental appointment, our goal is to make your child’s visits positive and fun. As children’s dentists in Scottsdale and Phoenix, we have tips and tricks to keep young patients happy, comfortable and at ease at the dentist. Ready to bring your child to the dentist for the first time? Contact Children’s Dental Specialty to book a complimentary baby dental exam or consultation today.