Children thrive on daily structures and routines. Waking up at the same time every day, going to school, and a consistent bedtime all ensure that a child knows what to expect every day. These regimented structures allow children a feeling of safety and security, while also building good habits. So, what happens when something new, such as a routine visit to the dentist, appears in a child’s day?
At Today’s Dental, Omaha’s best dental team, our professional and caring staff see children who aren’t afraid of the dentist, but afraid of the unknown change in their daily structure. How can families prepare children for a positive and productive visit to the dentist? Here’s our expert guide to ensure a tear-free visit for your child:
When Should Kids Have Their First Dental Exam?
The milestones that a baby achieves during their first year of life are quite remarkable! Your pediatrician marks each of these major events during your visits, and your dentist does the same as soon as your child’s first tooth erupts. When you see your child’s first tooth peeking through their gums, contact your dentist to schedule an appointment. A child’s first tooth typically appears around six months old, and families should wait no longer than the child’s first birthday to schedule a dentist’s appointment and oral examination. For toddler and school-age children, a check-up every six months is crucial to maintain clean teeth and troubleshoot any potential tooth or oral health issues. Making the dentist a part of a child’s scheduled routine also puts the child at ease, since they know they’ll see their favorite dentist twice a year!
What Should You Expect?
At your child’s first dental exam, the primary goal is helping your child feel comfortable with their dentist. Depending on your child’s age and tooth development, a gentle cleaning to remove plaque and tartar may occur, as well as a check of oral tissues, gums, bite, and jaws. The dentist is also a resource for families, and can answer questions about oral health care basics and developmental concerns.
Once your child reaches the toddler stage or is school-aged, they should be able to receive an independent dentist visit without a parent in the examination room. In addition to a regularly-scheduled cleaning, children are evaluated for cavities, tooth misalignment, or braces. Proper oral health habits such as brushing, flossing, and diet are also discussed and modeled. Older children may also have discussions with their dentist about smoking, vaping, and eating sugary foods in relation to their oral health.
How to Prepare Your Child for a Dental Visit
The first time you begin building a routine, it takes a child practice to feel comfortable with the new building, people, and events they’re about to experience. Omaha’s compassionate and kid-friendly dentists at Today’s Dental suggest the following tips to prepare your child for their dental visit:
- Explain to your child what they can expect during their visit. Describe what your own dental cleanings involve and the steps your dentist takes during a visit. Encourage your child to ask questions if there’s something they’re unsure about, such as what occurs in specific rooms or what different tools are used for.
- Keep it positive! Parents, if you’re calm and relaxed, your child will sense that as well. Avoid using any negative terms such as “shot” or “pain”, and focus instead on your dentist’s expertise and willingness to help your child keep their mouth healthy.
- Comfort is key. Allow your child to pick out their favorite toy and bring it along for the visit. This would also be a great day for your child to choose an outfit that they find comfortable wearing.
- If your child isn’t ready for you to leave the room, it’s ok to stay. You can even pre-plan a “safety word” that your child can say if their anxiety or discomfort becomes too great. Explain this to your dentist before the examination and your dentist will back off and give your child space to calm down.
Visit a Dentist
Making dental visits a part of your child’s yearly routine leads to healthy mouth habits and lifelong oral health. Contact the expert team at Today’s Dental to see how Omaha’s best dentists keep your children smiling before, during, and after your visit.