Establishing a healthy dental visit routine with your local dentist is essential for paving the pathway of positive oral care with your child. According to the Canadian Dental Association children should start seeing a dentist just after they start getting their first set of teeth. This can be as early as 6 months for some children. Since most children have some baby teeth in their mouth until around 12 years old, it’s crucial to start caring for their teeth right away.
By the time your child has their first birthday they should be visiting the family dentist twice a year and this should continue throughout childhood. Not only will a regular dental check-up help determine if the cleaning you’re doing at home is working, if there are any problems that need to be fixed this will be identified. Taking your child to the dentist will help establish a healthy dental routine and educate your child about what needs to be done to maintain healthy teeth for life.
The first dental visit
When taking your child to the dentist for the first time they will likely see a dentist or hygienist that works specifically with children. Here at Whistler Dental we have pediatric trained dentists who specialize in working with children. Infants having their first visit will generally have a visual exam to assess if new teeth are growing in a healthy manner. Toddlers and young children will have an engaging experience which will usually involve:
- The dentist showing the child how to brush their teeth
- An explanation of how to keep teeth clean by avoiding ‘sugar bugs’ and eating nutritious food
- An introduction to the dental instruments
- A quick polish of the teeth
- An examination of the teeth, their position and the general oral environment
- A reward at the end!
The first visit to the dentist is meant to introduce your child to the dentist and the clinic environment, make them feel comfortable, and give your dentist a benchmark for future dental visits.
Make sure to provide your dentist with a list of your child’s medical conditions if applicable and let the dentist know of any sucking habits that may be present.
Dealing with anxious children
It is completely normal for a child to feel nervous when visiting the dentist for the first time. The unfamiliar instruments, strange noises and new people can be startling for little ones. Make sure to talk to your child about what is going to happen in the lead up to your dental visit. Set positive expectations of the dental visit by telling your child the dentist will be checking on all of the great brushing they have been doing. If you make the dental visit a fun experience your child will more likely associate positive memories with going to the dentist.
Don’t worry if your child has a negative first experience, it is completely normal for kids not to make it through their first visit, and simply having the dentist look in your child’s mouth and meet your child is a great first attempt.
Oral care in between check ups
In between dental visits there is a lot you can do as a parent to encourage optimal oral care for your child. Choose a soft, kid-sized brush and help you child brush their teeth twice a day; after breakfast and before bed. Children up until about five years old require help or supervision when brushing.
If your child has a sucking habit, try and stop this as soon as possible since ongoing sucking habits can lead to potential tooth misalignment.
Keep your child away from starchy and sugary snacks which can lead to dental decay. Encourage a healthy wholefood diet, and teach your child the importance of staying away from sugary drinks, processed foods and candy.
If you are in Whistler and are looking for a family dentist for your child’s first dental visit make sure to contact us. With pediatric trained dentists and plenty of experience treating children of all ages we are here to support your family in every step of their dental journey.