Many parents are unsure of when their child should have his/her first dental visit.
Should you wait until all the teeth have grown out or visit the dentist only when there is a real problem?
There are also some would think that there is no real need to visit a dentist since his milk teeth would give way to the adult teeth in a few years’ time. Or, is there?
Your child’s first dentist visit
Your child’s first set of teeth, the primary teeth, are extremely important. A strong, healthy set of primary teeth will help your child chew food easily, speak clearly and to have a beautiful smile. According to Healthhub and other experts in the field, it is ideal to bring your child for his/her first dentist visit when the first tooth erupts in the mouth or by this/her first birthday.
This first dental visit holds a few benefits to both you and your child. Firstly, you can expose your child to the dental environment at a young age. The dentist can introduce and acclimatise your child to procedures such as examination of the teeth using the various dental equipment. Once the child is comfortable, he/she will allow the dentist to take a quick peek into his/her mouth. Hence, it is advisable to start bringing your child for the first visit when he/she is much younger and has not encountered any dental problems.
Secondly, your child’s dentist will be able to give you appropriate advice and education on the prevention of tooth decay and milk bottle feeding habits, to name a few.
Tips for preparing a toddler for his/her first dentist visit
While the advice is for parents to get the child to have his/her first dentist visit by the first birthday, there are many parents who wait until the child is a toddler or when he is much older, with some having dental problems by then.
At that age, the child is more aware of his/her surroundings and may be more resistant to go for his/her first dentist visit. However, there are a few things you can do to prepare him/her and make this experience a smooth and hassle-free one.
1. Timing is everything
If possible, schedule the first dentist visit for your toddler in the morning when he is most alert and fresh. Make sure he has something to eat prior to the visit so that his experience will not be hampered by hunger.
2. Books on dentist visits
Read books on “visit to the dentist” or on the occupation itself and discuss with your child as to what a dentist does and what a dentist visit will look like.
3. Role play
Play dentist at home with your toddler, with you being the dentist and your child as the patient and vice versa. This will help ease the anxiety in your toddler as he goes for his first dentist visit.
4. Hearing real-life encounters
Get an older child to share positive experience of his own dentist visit with your young child. You could even bring the former along to accompany the younger one as he goes through his first dentist visit as a toddler.
5. Be prepared yourself
Prepare yourself as you visit the dentist with your toddler. If you have dental anxieties yourself, be careful not to relate those fears or dislikes to your child. Do give your moral support by staying calm and accompanying him as he goes for his first dentist visit.
There are many child-centered dental clinics that you can bring your child to for his first dentist visit. You can also make an appointment with the School Dental Centre located at the Health Promotion Board to get the dentist to check up on your child’s teeth.