A child’s life is a time of many firsts. While big milestones like first steps and first words get the most attention, it’s just as important to celebrate (and prepare for) things like their first dental appointment. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children visit the dentist by his or her first birthday, or at least six months after the eruption of the first tooth. At Palmetto Smiles, we agree: your child’s little smile is developing quickly and beginning dental care at an early age will set him or her up for lifelong health.
Early visits also give your Lexington pediatric dentist an opportunity to take preventive measures against issues that may affect your child’s smile, and to establish a positive relationship with your child from day one. Is it almost time to take your little one to the dentist for the first time? Here are some tips to help you prepare your child for their first dental appointment.
1. Start a Positive Dental Dialogue
Kids pick up on everything — good and bad. If parents are vocal about not wanting to go to the dentist themselves, chances are their kids aren’t going to want to go either. To get your child ready for his or her first dental appointment, it’s important to start a positive dialogue at home, using kid-friendly terms to help alleviate any fears about what will happen at the dental office. Read your kiddos children’s books about going to the dentist to give them a positive frame of reference for the experience. When it comes time for their appointment, you can remind them of their favorite characters so they know there’s nothing to worry about. And always encourage your kids to ask as many questions as they want. The key is to keep the conversation light and fun so that your child feels safe and comfortable going to the dentist.
2. Play “Dentist” at Home
The best way to prepare your child for any new experience is to make it as fun as possible. This can be as simple as playing “dentist” at home. Assume the role of dentist and show your child exactly what to expect from their first dental visit. Then give your child the opportunity to play dentist themselves. Use stuffed animals and have your kiddo pretend to be the dentist, checking up on their favorite toy’s teeth and gums. Not only will this game get your child used to having dental tools in their mouth, it might even make the idea of going to the dentist (dare we say) exciting!
3. Explain Why the Dentist is Important
The thought of going to the dentist can be overwhelming for even the most relaxed kids (and for some adults!). Loud machines, bright lights, unfamiliar people — amidst so much stimulation, it can be difficult for little ones to understand why they have to visit the dentist in the first place. That’s why we encourage parents to give their kiddos a little lesson in oral health before visiting our Lexington pediatric dentistry office. Kids’ imaginations can run wild, but educating them on what to expect (and why it matters) will prevent fear from settling in. Talk to them about the importance of dental care in a way that they can understand by explaining that healthy teeth and gums will help them become big and strong. This will set the foundation for a lifetime of good oral hygiene.
4. Find a Pediatric Dentist
So why a pediatric dentist?
Pediatric dentists have completed an extra two years of specialized training after dental school and are dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teenage years. This additional education gives them the expertise to help kids of all ages avoid future dental problems. Toddlers, pre-teens and teenagers all require different approaches when it comes to guiding their growth and development. Pediatric dentists have the tools to make even the youngest patients comfortable in the dental chair and the atmosphere is designed to make kids feel more at ease..
Fortunately, as your Lexington family dentists, Palmetto Smiles is prepared to treat your entire family. Ready to book your child’s first dental appointment? Call us today!