While our children are small, we want to make sure they receive the best (and safest) care — that’s why a parent’s job can include finding the most comfortable stroller, picking out the best-rated car seat… and making sure kids get top-quality health care. When it comes to dental care, some parents are surprised to learn that a child’s first visit to the dentist should take place before his or her first birthday. If that seems too soon, keep in mind that recent evidence-based studies show that starting dental visits prior to age one not only reduces oral health costs, but also ensures that kids will have more pleasant dental experiences in the future.
What are the top five ways to help ease young kids through their earliest trips to the dental office? We’re glad you asked.
- Stay calm — even if dental visits make you a little nervous yourself. Kids pick up almost instantly on non-verbal cues, positive or negative. A few soothing words and a gentle touch can go a long way toward calming any worries they may have.
- Explain — but not too much. Let them know what to expect in the most basic terms, but leave talking about the nuts-and-bolts of it to us. We pediatric dentists go to great lengths to make children feel safe and comfortable in our care, and we can tell kids all they need to know in age-appropriate terms they can easily understand.
- Model healthy behavior — both in and out of the home. In the early years (and later, too), parents are the primary role models for their kids. Don’t just tell your kids — show them how you brush and floss your teeth regularly, and let them know why you avoid soda and “energy” drinks, and limit sugary snacks to after mealtimes.
- Learn how to maintain good oral hygiene — Did you know that tooth decay is the second most common disease in humans, after the common cold? Babies aren’t born with decay-causing bacteria — but one in four picks up oral bacteria from their caregivers! You can help prevent cavities by developing healthy habits. Where can you learn more? From us, of course! Next time you come in, ask us how to keep teeth sparkling clean and decay-free. And, of course, look for more tips in our blog posts.
- Get it done in Year One — We can’t say it enough: Starting children out right, with appropriate early dental care, can help set them up for a lifetime of good checkups and healthy teeth. And isn’t that something we all want for our kids?
If you would like more information about children’s dental visits, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Taking the Stress Out of Dentistry for Kids” and “Age One Dental Visit.”