First Visit to the Dentist
A common question asked by parents is at what age should their child have their first dental visit. The ideal time as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), and the American Dental Association (ADA) is when the first tooth appears or no later than his/her first birthday.
Just like with adults, the first dental visit can be stressful for children. Fear of the unknown can be an enormous stressor. By having a positive attitude about their own dental experiences, parents can set a good example and make the child’s first dental visit an enjoyable experience. Discussions about positive dental occurrences can greatly reduce your child’s concern and help make the visit a pleasant one.
During the first check-up, examination of the child’s teeth and gums will be completed. Although usually in subsequent appointments, radiographs (x-rays) may be obtained to ensure that the teeth are developing properly. A more important reason for a dental exam at an early age is for the dentist to begin developing a positive relationship with the child and for the child to feel comfortable in a dental office setting. The positive experience and outcome can enable the child to have minimal stress and anxiety during future dental visits.
Sometimes it is helpful to bring the child into the office before their scheduled appointment. During this visit the child can meet the staff and familiarize himself, or herself with the office to make the first official appointment a breeze.
A dental cleaning can be completed during a separate appointment, not to overwhelm the child. Because of the young age, the child may or may not cooperate during the first few visits. However, as the child gets older, more mature, and more comfortable, he or she will look forward to their future dental visits.
Preventative home care techniques and the importance of oral hygiene should be discussed with the parents. Initially, brushing the child’s teeth can be a struggle. The procedure gets easier as the child matures.