Center for Family Health column: Make a trip to dentist one of your child’s ‘firsts’

By Gregory Trompeter

JACKSON, MI – When you have little ones, there are a lot of “firsts” to enjoy – first words, first steps, first haircuts and so much more. Visiting the dentist also is undoubtedly a momentous first in a child’s life.

Ensuring that a child’s first visit to the dentist is a positive and pleasant experience can lay the groundwork for a lifelong, confident relationship with dental care providers. Here are some ways to make sure that first visit to the dentist is a great experience.

Timing is everything

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommend children see a dentist by age 1. For the most part, it won’t be a long appointment, but it is the start of some highly informative appointments that are aimed at preventing dental disease from starting.

Be sure to schedule an appointment for a time that your child is typically at their best. Maybe your little one is most agreeable in the morning when they first wake. Perhaps later in the day after a nap is your kiddo’s best time of the day. Scheduling an appointment for a time when your child is typically at their best will set you, your dentist and your child up for a successful first visit.

Minimize distractions

While you may bring along an older sibling, partner or grandparent to help introduce your child to the dentist, it is best to leave younger siblings at home so you can be present and focus on your child.

Prepare ahead of time

Show your child what they can expect at a dental visit. There are many YouTube videos available that can do wonders in helping prepare your child for knowing what to expect during a check-up. This can really help to make sure kids can minimize first-visit jitters they may be experiencing. Also, try to fill out any necessary paperwork ahead of time to help minimize time in the waiting room and be sure to write down any questions you may have ahead of time.

Starting good habits at home

Keeping teeth healthy and cared for at home will help to avoid unpleasant treatments at the dentist such as cavities and fillings. Some easy habits to establish for your little ones include:

  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day floss daily. Incorporating a favorite song is a great way to help keep your child engaged for a full two minutes of brush time.
  • Limit sugary drinks and snacks. Soda and juice can damage tooth enamel and candy can easily get stuck in little teeth, encouraging cavities. Water is the best choice for keeping little mouths healthy and can help aid in washing away germs and bacteria.

Most dentists recommend a dental visit every six months. Check with your dentist to see what is best for your child’s needs. Your dentist is there to help guide you and your child towards a long, healthy path of optimal oral health.

– Gregory Trompeter, DDS, is a dentist with the Center for Family Health in Jackson


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