It’s estimated that as many as 80% of Americans have anxiety about going to the dentist, so imagine how your child may feel during their first dental appointment. But like you, your child has nothing to fear, especially from the compassionate dental team at Hometown Family Dental Centers.
To ensure a smooth visit, we want to share some tips on how you can help your child get through their first dental appointment without the nerves.
Start brushing early
Do you know when you need to start taking care of your baby’s teeth? As soon as they enter the world. Your baby may not have any teeth at birth, but sugar from breast milk or formula remain in the mouth and serve as a source of food for the bacteria. Not getting rid of the sugar may increase the bacteria in your baby’s mouth, which may increase risk of cavities—even before they have teeth.
To keep your baby’s gums and mouth healthy, use a clean, damp washcloth to wipe your baby’s gums after feedings. This not only removes sugar and bacteria for a cleaner mouth, but also sets the stage for toothbrushing.
Once the teeth start pushing through the gums, switch over to an infant toothbrush and brush at least twice a day, just like you do. Use a tiny amount of fluoride-free, infant-safe toothpaste when you clean your baby’s teeth too.
Make the first appointment before age one
Once that first tooth pops up, it’s time to schedule your baby for a dental appointment. The American Dental Association (ADA) says your baby’s first visit to the dentist should be within six months after that first tooth appears, but no later than their first birthday.
Starting trips to the dentist early helps your child get used to the visits so they know what to expect, which may help prevent fear and anxiety if you wait until they’re older. During this first appointment, we actually spend most of our time with you, going over:
- How to brush and floss your child’s teeth
- Fluoride needs
- Cavity prevention
- Dental milestones
If your child has developed an oral habit, such as sucking their thumb, we provide helpful tips on what you can do to minimize oral health complications.
During your child’s first visit, one of our pediatric dental specialists conducts an oral exam and may request dental X-rays. If needed, the dental hygienist may also clean your child’s teeth. Our pediatric specialists are extra gentle with young patients and take a little more time helping them feel comfortable in the dentist’s chair.
Schedule appointments that work for your child
Every child is different, and no one understands your child’s needs and moods better than you. To help your child have a positive dental experience at their first visit, schedule their appointment during a time they won’t be sleepy or uncooperative. The ADA says early morning appointments usually work best for children.
Stay calm and be positive
Your child may sense your own anxiety about the dentist, which may affect their first dental experience. Do everything you can to push your personal fears aside so your child can develop their own sense of what it’s like at the dentist’s office. Do your best to stay calm and offer reassuring words if your child expresses fear or concern.
Good oral care is essential for long-term health. Let us help you take good care of your child’s teeth to prevent oral health issues. Call Hometown Family Dental Centers today or request an appointment online to schedule your child’s first dental appointment.