Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends kids see the dentist for the first time around their first birthday? It sounds crazy early, but the reality is preventing cavities starts as soon as those little chompers come in.
Since you and your little one’s dentist will be seeing a lot of each other, we wanted to share four check-up tips to help make your visit to the kiddie dentist as easy as possible.
We touched on this first one a little bit, but it really is important to bring kids to the dentist right when those teeth start showing up. Don’t worry, the first trip isn’t too intense. The dentist just wants to get to know his newest patient and make sure everything looks good. More than 1 in 4 kids in the U.S. has had at least one cavity by the time they’re 4, many get cavities as early as 2! It’s our job to do as much as we can to help keep those teeny tiny teeth in tip top shape.
Keep it Easy
It’s not a big deal until you make it a big deal. Kids feed off of our energy, so as long as you’re chill about the visit, chances are they will be too. Experts say watch your language too. “Don’t use the ‘S’ (shot), ‘H’ (hurt) or ‘P’ (pain) words with children, said Joel H. Berg, D.D.S., M.S., Director of the Department of Dentistry at Seattle Children’s Hospital. If you show them it’s a positive experience they’ll be less likely to freak out…which keeps everybody happy.
Practice, Practice, Practice
If your little one has some teeth in there, you’re probably already practicing with the toothbrush. Why not take that practice time a little further? Before your first visit, play “Dentist Office.” You get to be the doctor and they’re the patient. Count teeth starting with the number 1 or the letter A. Don’t make drilling noises or show off “instruments,” that can be scary. Then let your child play dentist on one of their stuffed animals or dolls. The more familiar a dentist visit seems, the less intimidating it’ll be when you go in for the real deal.
Don’t Expect Perfection
You know kids are totally unpredictable, so why would you expect them to act like little angels in an unfamiliar place? How would you like it if a stranger was poking around in your mouth and you didn’t understand why?
Expect your child to get fussy during the exam. Some dentists might have your son or daughter sit in your lap on the exam chair to help them feel safe. “Stay calm and remember that the dentist and her staff are used to working with children and have seen their share of tantrums,” said Rhea Haugseth, D.M.D., president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
The relationship your child has with his or her dentist is an important one, so starting off on the right foot is key. Making sure to start early and showing your son or daughter how important it is to take care of your teeth is a great way to start an awesome partnership that will keep those pearly whites looking their best!