All Smiles: Preparing for Your Little One’s First Dental Visit

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Can you believe your baby has her first tooth?  She’ll be moving from smacking baby food between her gums to chewing chicken in no time.  That means it’s time for her first dental visit.  I know what you’re thinking: “The dentist? Already?!”  Yep, that’s right!  The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children visit a pediatric dentist when their first tooth comes in or by their first birthday.

How do you find the right dentist for your child?   What should you expect on your child’s dental visit?  And how will you keep your little one from squirming, crying and showing out in the dental chair?  Not to worry, mama – we’ve got all the information you need to ease your dental anxiety right here:

Remember that all dentists aren’t the same.  Most experts agree that there are benefits to choosing a pediatric dentist for your child instead of using a general dentist.  That’s because pediatric dentists complete extra education beyond general dentistry that equips them in knowing how to care for and deal with the special needs of children.  You can find a good pediatric dentist the same way that you found your child’s pediatrician.  Ask around and get referrals from friends.  Be sure to visit the office before making an appointment to check out the atmosphere, and feel free to ask questions about the dentist’s education and experience.  You want to make sure that your little one’s blooming smile is in good hands.

Know what to expect on the big day.  If you’re like most mothers, you’re probably thinking “She’s only got one tooth, so what can the dentist really do?”  The first visit will be short, but very informative.  Be prepared to possibly hold your child in your lap while the dentist examines her.  The dentist will look at your child’s teeth, gums, jaws and bite for decay and abnormalities.  The dentist may do a very brief cleaning followed by a fluoride treatment.  Or he may save this for the next visit.  This is a great time to talk to your dentist about any issues that your child has or that you anticipate them having such as thumb sucking, teething or resisting having their teeth brushed.  Make sure you get all of your questions answered before leaving.

Be ready to deal with toddler anxiety.  New settings can be frightening for little ones.  Start easing the anxiety before it even happens.  Be sure to tell your child in a calm, happy voice that they’ll be going to the dentist.  A good dentist will have a warm friendly demeanor and voice during the visit to discourage anxiety.  Pediatric dentists also often have toys or kid-friendly items in the room to distract your child.  Be prepared and bring your child’s favorite small toy as well.  If your child gets anxious, remain calm.  Your toddler will follow your cues.  Don’t be too concerned about their anxiety.  It’s normal, and will subside as she gets use to visiting her dentist.

For more tips or to find a pediatric dentist in your area, visit the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry website.

Getting your child to the dentist early sets the stage for good dental health.  By making the first dental visit a priority, you’re giving your child a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime.

Have you made your toddler’s first dental appointment yet?

Words: Yolanda Darville

Yolanda Darville is a mom, writer, and blogger focusing on inspiring and empowering women. Read more of her writings here on her personal blog.

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