Preparing for Your First Dental Appointment
If you’re like most parents, you’re eagerly documenting and enthusiastically enjoying each new milestone. From baby’s first smile to baby’s first steps, each new phase is a cause for celebration as your little one grows into a child. So here’s a question: have you given any thought to baby’s first dental appointment? Experts say it should be scheduled sometime between the first tooth and the first birthday.
Why does it need to be so early? Where there are teeth there is the possibility of cavities. When you are proactive about your child’s dental health, you lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth. What’s more, when you properly prepare for your little one’s first dental appointment, you can help allay any fears and make the trip a happy one.
- Introducing oral care early can lay the groundwork for a successful trip to the dentist. As soon as your baby’s first tooth erupts, clean the gums with a soft, damp cloth. Making a child comfortable with someone cleaning his or her mouth can make it less daunting when the dentist does it. Depending on the age of the child when you make that first appointment, you might practice by having the child open his or her mouth and let you count the teeth.
- Set your child up for success. Schedule the appointment at the right time of day, early enough for the child to feel fresh and energetic, and not at any time that would interfere with a nap or meal, which could lead to crankiness. Prepare your little one by talking about what’s going to happen, and perhaps reading books or watching videos about going to the dentist.
- Make sure you’re well-prepared, too. Ask if you can fill out patient forms ahead of time, and make a list of questions to ask the dentist, so you don’t forget. Make sure that you keep any fears or anxieties that you may have about dental exams under control, to avoid passing these worries along to your child.
- Know what to expect once you’re at the dentist. The dentist will examine your child’s mouth to make sure the teeth and jaw are developing normally, and there are no mouth injuries, cavities, or other issues. If your child can’t or would rather not sit in the chair alone, you’ll be permitted to hold him or her on your lap. The dentist will offer information on gum and tooth care, answer your questions about things like nutrition and pacifiers, and demonstrate appropriate brushing techniques.
- Keep up with your child’s dental hygiene. After that first visit, your child should see the dentist at least once every six months. Talk to your dentist about your unique child; some children may need to be seen more often. At home, keep cleaning those teeth and gums with a cloth, switching to a small, soft toothbrush as more teeth come in, and adding a pea-sized amount of toothpaste around two years of age, when the child is old enough to spit the toothpaste out instead of swallowing it. Teach your child to properly brush his or her own teeth, helping with the process until the child is about six years of age.
- Instill good eating and drinking habits for healthy teeth. Steer clear of foods that can contribute to tooth decay, like sticky candy, fruit leather, and sweet drinks. Offer fruit rather than juice, because fruit has healthy fiber that helps clean teeth, but juice merely exposes the teeth to sugar. Don’t put your child down to sleep with a bottle of milk, juice or sweetened liquid, and limit the time your child spends with a bottle to five or six minutes.
When you help a child develop healthy habits, and introduce the dentist’s office as a happy place full of people who want to help, you’re setting that child up for a lifetime of good dental health. At Glenwood Premier Dental, we believe that a healthy, confident smile is an important part of a happy and healthy lifestyle. We care for patients of all ages here, and if you have any questions about your baby’s oral health, one of our dentists in Hazlet will be happy to assist you. When you’re looking for dental care in Hazlet, contact us through our website or call 732.264.4477 for more information.