When should you take your child to the dentist? What happens at the visit? What should I do to prepare my child for his or her first visit? We get these questions a lot, so we felt it would be a good idea to review what it’s like at baby’s first visit to the dentist!
When should you go?
The earliest ideal time you should go is either when the first teeth come out, or around your child’s first birthday. Why is this ideal? “We can check the development of the baby teeth,” says Dr. Elizabeth. “Babies this age are also delightfully curious about their bodies. It’s a great time to teach them about their teeth and gums– and how to take care of them.” This is also a great time for our pediatric dentists to help new moms and dads know what to do and, importantly, what not to do to help make sure their child has as healthy a mouth as possible.
Pick a time when your child is happy and alert.
It’s important to make the first visit as pleasant as possible so your child doesn’t see it in a negative light. You may have read that your child’s last meal should be two hours before the visit. We actually want your child to eat at their normally scheduled times and try to fit us in between those feeding times. “And, if your child gets hungry while they are here, let him/her eat, that’s okay!” says Dr. Elizabeth.
If you’re nervous, your child will be nervous.
Kids pick up on how their parents feel about things. Make sure you “prep” your child and yourself about the visit. Read children’s stories about going to the dentist and speak about it as a positive experience. In our office, it usually is and we can’t wait to meet new little ones when they come in for their first visit.
The difference between your dentist and a pediatric dentist
Pediatric dentists undertake another two to three years of training to specifically master techniques for treating and educating children and their parents. Pediatric dentist’s offices (like ours!) are also equipped for children– chairs, posters, tooth and gum models they can touch and that are very child friendly in size and appearance. This helps make each visit pleasant and comfortable.
What happens at the visit?
“We’ll look at your child’s teeth and gums in a knee to knee exam with your child in your lap and their head in ours. We then chat with you and your child about dental care, foods to watch out for, good (oral care) and bad habits (like thumb sucking) and what you should do in case of dental emergencies,” says Dr. Elizabeth. “Think of it as show-and-tell. And you can tell your child that! We’ll show the dentist how many teeth you’ve got! Or Let’s show Dr. Elizabeth what a champ you are at brushing!”
We’ll also schedule your next 6-month visit. This works several ways: it gets your child used to going to the dentist, starts a good dental care habit, and your pediatric dentist would be able to see and treat any issues as early as possible through their consistent follow up and tracking of changes to the dentition and oral cavity.
If your child hasn’t visited the dentist yet, come see us soon! We can’t wait to meet them!
About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, the offices of Drs. Plunkett, Ralstrom, Makowski, Thanasas, Ker, and Associates
Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. The ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs reaches beyond our facility, which has treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options. We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals.