Establishing a good dental routine early on and identifying potential problems or issues with your child’s teeth from a young age could make all the difference to their dental health as they grow. A visit to the dentist can be daunting, even for adults, so Dental Care Ireland share 5 practical tips for a successful first visit to the dentist for young children.
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#1. What to Expect on a First Visit to the Dentist
Depending on the child’s age, they can usually either sit on a parent’s lap for their examination, or get sit in the dentists’ chair by themselves.
The dentist examines the child’s mouth and gums, in order to identify any issues such as decay, crowding problems, or developmental anomalies. If needed, they may take an X-ray. They will then polish the child’s teeth and offer the parent preventative hygiene and dietary advice.
Many dental practices now offer child-friendly waiting areas or surgeries, as well as post-visit rewards.
#2. When to Schedule a First Visit to the Dentist
The ideal time to bring your child to the dentist is before the age of two, and preferably when the first tooth arrives. This gives you, the parent, an opportunity to ask dietary and hygiene questions, and seek professional advice on best tooth maintenance.
It also allows your dentist to establish a baseline record of your child’s dental health and development, safe-guarding the establishment of good dental health and preventing the premature loss of vital baby teeth through decay.
#3. Appointment Times
For a first visit, it is particularly important to ensure that your child is as relaxed as possible. Ideally, pick a time of day that suits you both, so that nobody feels too rushed, tired or hungry.
It is best if the appointment time does not interfere with nap routines, sports schedules or even a favourite programme!
#4. Establish a Brushing Routine
Incorporating supervised brushing into your child’s usual every day morning and evening schedules is key. As the first baby teeth arrive at approximately six months, it is a good idea to introduce the concept of oral hygiene at this time. For very young infants, merging a brushing routine into bath time is an excellent way to inspire a regular dental health regime for the future. .
For 0-2 year olds, brushing with a toothbrush and water is best. From 2-7 years, children should brush twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
A useful tip is to bring along your child’s tooth brush to their dental check-up, so that the dentist can see that they are using the correct size and strength for their teeth.
#5. Talk About Teeth
It helps to be mindful of the language used in preparation for a first visit to the dentist. Use positive words and phrases such as check-up, counting teeth or looking at the mouth, rather than referring to unfamiliar terms such as extractions or fillings.
In advance, it can also be a good idea to introduce baby and child-friendly books or songs about brushing teeth or trips to the dentist.
Throughout the month of March 2018, Dental Care Ireland will be offering a free first dental visit to all patients under five. For details of practice locations nationwide, visit www.dentalcareireland.ie
What age was your child when they had their first visit to the dentist? Tell us in the comments box below.