The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends the first dental visit to be whenever the first tooth erupts or by the child’s first birthday.
I agree that this works for first children but I think than once parents have been through the practice of taking their infant off the bottle by age one, brushing and flossing daily, watching sweets, and using fluoride supplements appropriately, the following kids can wait until two or even three for their first dental appointment.
At the first dentist visit, we usually show kids around, ride on the chair or sit in a parent’s lap, take easy x-rays of front teeth, brush the teeth with our power toothbrush, floss, and apply topical fluoride, then go over home care and finally examine the teeth, mouth and jaws. Some parents tell me that the first time to the dentist can be more stressful for parents than for the kids.
Parents are worried for a variety of reasons. How does your child respond to meeting your adult friends for the first time? Are they shy with strangers? If so, expect the same behavior at the dentist.
If they greet extended family members for the first time with a smile, then they can do the same for the dentist!
The best preparation for an infant’s first dental visit is casual mention of how fun it is to ride in a moving chair and what great prizes they may get to take home.
There is really no need to prepare them for anything difficult because a good Pediatric Dentist and their assistants will be able to read your child’s needs and accommodate them.
Some children do better with their parents close by and others do better with their parents out of the room. Sometimes parents are surprised that their child behaves better for strangers without them.
Other parents know that their child always gets glowing reports from pre-school about what a perfect child they have and wonder why that angel seems to feel free to make life tough for their parents at home.
My theory on this is that the child follows the old saying that familiarity breeds contempt. Or it could be that in stressful situations, crying “I want my Mommy” when Mommy is holding their hand just means, “Hey Mom, get me out of here!”
When Mom is not there, children often realize that they have to follow the rules because they are on their own. I have seen this help children develop a wonderful sense of independence and self-control.
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Specializing in dentistry for infants, children, adolescents and special needs patients