When your child reaches their first birthday, they are also ready for their first dental appointment. It is important to get in to see that first dentist for children early because as many as 40% of kids already have cavities by the time they start kindergarten. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, at least 42% of kids, who are between the ages of two and 11, have cavities in their primary teeth.
Given how many adults are scared of going to the dentist, it makes sense that many parents worry about getting their child ready for their first dentist for children. The good news is that there are things you can do to make the process easier.
- Never let them see you sweat. Well, that is not really the advice but keeping your fears to yourself will help your children approach going to the kids dentist with less fear and anxiety. Children, even very young children, will pick up on the anxiety you experience before you go to the dentist. If you are afraid of the dentist, you may want to talk to the dental professionals about dealing with your fear so that you do not pass it down to your children. If you have older children, you may want to bring the younger ones to their pediatric dental exams so they know what to expect. Be careful about how you talk about going to the dentist. Kids pick up on that and they will remember.
- Start brushing early. You should not wait until you find that first dentist for children to start brushing their teeth. Experts recommend brushing as soon as you see the first tooth come in. You can get a soft brush and toothpaste for babies. Unless you are told something different from an expert in pediatric dental care, you should not use toothpaste with fluoride on children who are under the age of two.
- Get books and take part in activities to learn about teeth. There are a lot of books out there for children to teach them about their teeth and to get them ready to receive pediatric dental services. There are games, songs and other activities that you can use to teach your children about the importance of keeping their teeth and mouths healthy. These can be fun ways to introduce young children to dentistry. There are even songs about teeth that can be fun to sing with your child about teeth.
- Make toothbrushing fun. As your young child starts to become more independent, they will want to do things for themselves but when you are starting out getting them to brush their teeth, you should consider making it a fun, group activity. Brush your teeth with them. You should supervise the early tooth brushing sessions anyway so if you try, you can make it a fun activity while still stressing the importance of keeping their teeth healthy. You can let them take a crack at brushing their teeth but you will have to step in and make sure it has been done properly.
- Be careful about picking your fist dentist for children. The good news on this front is that there are a lot of experts in pediatric dentistry. These are dental professionals who have training and experience making the process and the whole experience better for children and their parents. Even if you are afraid of going to the dentist, when you have spent some time researching the pediatric dentists in your area, you will be more comfortable going into those visits. That will go a long way in making your child feel better about the experience. If you appear nervous, anxious or scared when you take your child in for their first and subsequent visits with the pediatric dental office, you will make your child nervous, anxious and scared. The more relaxed you are, the better experience your child will have. That is the most important thing.
Good oral hygiene and health is important for overall health. Getting your child ready for their appointment with the first dentist for children will get them started on the right path for good health.