Taking your child to the dentist's office for a check-up by their first birthday or six months after their first tooth comes in, is an important step in ensuring healthy teeth and gums. In addition, knowing how to choose the right dentist, what to expect, and how to prepare will ease any anxiety and discomfort you or your child may experience during their first visit.
Setting up a plan the night before can help keep you calm and, in turn, make your child feel safe and relaxed. First, put your child to bed a little bit earlier than you ordinarily would, to help ensure that your child is well rested and cooperative in the morning. After your child is settled in, gather any items you may need and pack a diaper bag so that you'll have everything ready before the visit to the dentist’s office.
Write down any concerns or questions you have about your child's oral health so you don't forget anything in the morning. This might include questions about how your children's teeth are growing, how to identify potential issues, how to take care of their oral health, or how to help them with teething pain.
Take your child's favorite toy, stuffed animal, or a security blanket with you to help him or her feel more comfortable around strangers and adapt to an unfamiliar environment.
If you have any toothbrushes or other oral health instruments that you're using with your child, make sure to bring them so that the dentist can advise you on whether they are appropriate and provide further technique directions.
Your child's first dentist's visit will likely involve a review of their oral health history, an assessment of their current oral health, instructions for proper cleaning techniques, and scheduling follow-up visits or necessary treatments.
Be prepared for the dentist to interview you about the development of your child's teeth. He'll want to know exactly when the teeth came in, how many teeth you've noticed, and what your child's teething habits are. You'll also get the chance to ask questions about your child's dental health. The list you wrote the night before will help make sure that you address everything.
After getting your child's dental history, the dentist will examine your child's teeth and gums and give you recommendations about how to best care for them. He may also demonstrate teeth-cleaning procedures like brushing and have you try them in front of him so that he can make sure you know how to brush them correctly.
Finally, your dentist should give you an overview of how your child's teeth and gums will develop and schedule a follow-up visit so that he can check your child's development.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests bringing your child to the dentist six months after his first tooth comes in or by his first birthday, whichever comes first.
It's best to bring very young children into the dentist's office early in the morning. Infants tend to be more alert and less irritable in the mornings
It’s not necessary to see a pediatric dentist. However, they are specifically trained to work with children. They not only have advanced knowledge of how children's mouths, gums, and teeth should develop, but are experts in dealing with scared, angry, or upset children.
Your child should be able to eat before going to the dentist. However, you may want to feed them less than usual in case their stomach gets upset or the dentist needs to do any kind of treatment on their teeth.
Ask for recommendations from your pediatrician and other parents. Before scheduling an appointment, visit the office to meet the dentist and talk to the receptionist. This can give you a sense of how friendly the office is and will let you see how other children react in the reception area, or around the office.
Although you may be tempted to postpone your child's first dental visit until they are old enough to understand where they’re going, it's better to begin developing good oral health habits early. Going to the dentist with your child gives you the opportunity to learn how to take care of developing teeth or identify potential problems and allows your infant to get accustomed to a new environment. Selecting a reliable, convenient dentist can help create a comfortable routine for both you and your child during the next few years. If you make smart preparations ahead of time and bring your child in when they are at their best, you'll get the most out of your visit.
* This information is for general educational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical or dental professional. The information presented is not a guarantee or representation that the procedures are covered under a Humana Dental or Vision Plan.
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