The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children visit and establish a dental home by the age of 1. It is generally recommended that children visit the dentist by their first birthday, or when teeth first begin to appear. Naples / Marco Island dentist Dr. Tamara Robison offers some tips to help children feel more comfortable when visiting a dentist’s office for the first time.
“For everyone, visiting the dentist can be a cause for a bit of apprehension,” says Dr. Robison, whose office offers an extensive treatment list that includes tooth whitening. “But there is no need for apprehension – pediatric dentists strive to make each child we care for feel right at home, and we provide compassionate and gentle care to all of our patients.”
If you have small children who have not yet visited a pediatric dentist, consider scheduling a visit that simply allows the child to meet the dentist.“Scheduling a meet and greet type of visit with a pediatric dentist can help the child feel comfortable and trust the dentist before work begins,” says Dr. Robison. “It is crucial that a child feels comfortable with the dentist and his or her staff. This will allow the dentist to perform any necessary procedures that come up.”
The purpose of the very first pediatric dental visit is twofold – the dentist will get an understanding of your child’s oral health and then develop a plan to best care for your child’s teeth and gums. The dentist will examine the child’s teeth for signs of decay, check the child’s bite and look for any potential issues in the child’s tissue, jaw or gums. For small children, many dentists will allow the parent to sit in the dental chair and hold the child, allowing the child the opportunity to be comforted during the entire exam. Other dentists may ask the parent to wait in the waiting room, which allows the dentist and staff to develop a relationship with the child. Before choosing your child’s pediatric dentist, be sure you are comfortable with their approach during office visits.
Help your child understand how and why the dentist is doing what he needs to do during the visit. Explain that properly cleaned teeth help the child stay healthy, and visiting the pediatric dentist is the same as visiting a pediatrician for check-ups.
“The more comfortable the parents are with their chosen dentist, the more comfortable the child will be,” says Dr. Robison. “If parents understand why the dentist recommends a certain procedure, such as fluoride treatment, then they can explain to the child why it is needed. If the parent shows they understand the procedure and approve, the child will feel more at ease in the dentist’s chair. Children take their cues from their parents, so it is important that parents help children develop a positive relationship with a pediatric dentist beginning at a young age.”
Visiting a dentist while the child is still young helps normalize the process. Children can be given a chance to develop a relationship with the pediatric dentist and staff, and create a happy and healthy dental home where they will feel comfortable having any necessary dental procedures done. Visits to the pediatric dentist should then be followed up by proper oral care at home to ensure a child’s oral health.