CHILD’S FIRST DENTAL VISIT
For parents wondering when they should bring their child to the dentist, “First visit by first birthday” sums it up. Your child should visit a dentist when the first tooth comes in, usually between six and twelve months of age. Early examination and preventative care will protect your child’s smile now and in the future.
The most important reason for taking your child to the dentist at such an early age is to begin a prevention program. Dental problems begin early. Early childhood caries (also known as baby bottle tooth decay) is a big concern in children and can be very traumatic. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth chew food more easily, learn to speak clearly, and smile with confidence. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.
The first visit to the dental office should be a pleasant experience for your child, however many children simply do not like having someone strange examine their mouths. Under normal circumstances, the first visit to the dentist is simply playing around and a simple examination, it should not cause your child any discomfort.
To help the dental visit go more smoothly:
• Tell your child about the visits but limit the amount of details given. Answer any questions with simple, to-the-point answers. Let the dentist answer more complex or detailed questions. Dentists are trained to describe things to children in a non-threatening way and in an easy- to- understand language.
• Keep it simple. Explain to your child that the dentist will let him take a ride in the dental chair, count his teeth and make sure they’re healthy.
• Don’t tell your child that something will hurt or be painful.
• Don’t tell your child about an unpleasant dental experience that you’ve had. Many children are afraid simply because they have been told scary stories by their siblings, friends, adults or parents.
• Stress to your child how important it is to maintain healthy teeth and gums and that the dentist is a friendly doctor whose job it is to help do this.
• Don’t promise a reward for going to the dentist.
• Don’t threaten your child by telling them they are going to get an injection or a tooth extracted if they do not behave.
• Keep in mind that it is perfectly normal for children to be fearful. Some are afraid of being separated from their parents, others are afraid of the unknown, others are afraid of being injured. Parents should comfort their children about going to the dentist for the first time. Reassure your child that the dentist does not want to hurt them.
First visit for babies & children:
• First appointments generally involve a simple examination for babies, looking for any oral diseases
or abnormal conditions.
• First appointments for children are generally more detailed. Examination includes looking at the teeth, gums and surrounding hard and soft tissues, as well as any developmental abnormalities. X-rays are taken to determine the if cavities are present, and to make sure the teeth are developing properly. X-rays may not be taken on young children or those whose behaviour prevents them from sitting still.
• The dentist may clean the teeth with a polisher.
• When the dentist is finished examining the child, the dentist will consult the parents regarding findings, oral hygiene, dietary recommendations of needed, treatment plan, and any questions the parent my have about their child.
First visit for teenagers:
• Your teenager will have a thorough examination of their teeth, gums, hard and soft tissues.
• Their oral hygiene will be assessed, and their gums will be checked for the presence of gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis).
• X-rays will be taken to access the presence or absence of wisdom teeth or any pathology, and to check for cavities.
• Your teenager may be counselled about their oral hygiene and diet as well as the appearance of their teeth.
• The dentist will clean the teeth.
• The doctor, parent and patient will discuss an acceptable treatment plan and answer any questions.