How To Prepare Your Child For Their First Dental Visit

Your child is probably familiar with going to the doctor, but their first visit to the dentist will be a totally new experience. Our dentist, Dr. Nilofer Khan is committed to getting kids off to the best start possible in establishing a great relationship with the dentist and good oral health habits for a lifetime. Here’s how you can help make that important visit a success!

Start early – According to the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), a child’s first visit should be when the first tooth erupts in the mouth – no later than age one. According to the ADA, a baby can get cavities as soon as he or she has teeth.

According to Connecticut dentist Dr. Anna Guarna for Colgate, the purpose of the initial visit is as much to introduce the child to the environment of the dental office in a non-threatening way as it is about the check-up itself. Building trust is an all-important process that begins here.

Have an upbeat attitude – Talk to your child in terms he or she can understand. There are many books and YouTube videos available about what to expect when visiting a dentist for the first time. Also, if you have anxiety about dental visits, it’s easy to unintentionally transfer that emotion to your child. Focus instead on the positive experience you want the visit to be.

Because many children find new situations unsettling, let your child know about the appointment before or immediately after scheduling it, and begin introducing the educational materials. Waiting until the day before the appointment will very likely provoke stress and fear.

Be prepared – The ADA recommends that parents make a list of any concerns or questions they have for the dentist. For example, if your child is teething, sucking his or her thumb, or using a pacifier too much, your dentist can offer advice.

The ADA also recommends the following tips. While some are intended for subsequent visits, the basic principles apply to first-timers.

  • Don’t schedule an appointment during naptime. Instead, pick a time your child is usually well-rested and cooperative.
  • Make sure your child has had a light meal and brushes their teeth before their appointment so they won’t be hungry during their visit.
  • Save snacks for after the visit so they aren’t on your child’s teeth during the exam.

Think of the appointment as a happy and fun experience. If your child becomes upset during the visit, work with your dentist to calm your child. You’re on the same team!

Keep in mind that not every dentist is suited to treat children. While they may be skilled in communicating with adults, the energies and emotions that a child brings to the chair could be challenging.

The resulting dynamic can create a stressful situation for both the child and dentist. Also, adult-oriented dental practices typically lack child-friendly amenities that make kids feel welcome and at ease.

While we treat patients of all ages, we give children the specialized attention they deserve! The spa-like ambience of our office creates a tranquil environment in which Dr. Nilofer Kahn and her staff talk to young patients at their level of understanding, giving them a “tour” of the examination room and gently explaining each step of the procedure. Dennis, our popular mascot, helps us demonstrate proper tooth brushing techniques in a fun, non-intimidating way. 

We believe that one of the many advantages NK Family Dental offers is that we are able to treat every member of your family under one roof, at every stage of life. The child you trust to our care from that first appointment can continue here through teen years to adult, always treated by compassionate professionals. We invite you to learn more, and schedule an appointment to get your child’s smile off to the right start!

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