What to Expect for Your Child
If you are a parent, you should start considering making an appointment for your child’s first dental exam around the time of their first tooth eruption. The Canadian Dental Association recommends that a dentist assesses an infant within 6 months of that tooth eruption, or by one year of age. This is to ensure that a child is seen before problems with their teeth arise. A dental exam every 6 months should be sufficient to take care of your child’s teeth.
Preparing Your Child for the Visit
When making the appointment, ask questions about the procedures so that you can be prepared, and talk to your child ahead of time. Try to build excitement about the upcoming visit by talking to your child about what to expect. Very young children or toddlers may be frightened or unsure and therefore not be cooperative during their first visit. Make sure to have a plan with the dentist ahead of time, should this be the case. Bringing a favourite toy or treasured stuffy is a way to make your child feel at ease.
What Happens During Their First Dental Exam
Many times during the first visit, your dentist will only gently probe, count their teeth and get to know your child and make sure there are no glaring problems. A first visit is an introduction to the dentist and their practice, and shorter follow up visits may occur until your child is comfortable. Try to schedule the appointment early in the day or at a time when your child is at their best. Small kids under 3 years may need to be held in your lap for the exam. Depending on the office, your dentist may ask you to wait in the reception area while your child is being examined.
What You Should Do at Home
Providing oral hygiene for your child until they are old enough to take over themselves is important to start as soon as they are born. Start by cleaning your infant’s gums with a cloth, and after they start getting teeth, brush them with a small soft-bristled toothbrush and water. Avoid giving your child a bottle of juice, milk, or sweet liquid at bedtime. Help them to learn good oral hygiene by leading by example, and brush your teeth with them every morning and night.