How to Create a Positive First Visit With a Pediatric Dentist
Though you’ve likely been going to the dentist for as long as you can remember, bringing your child in for their first dental checkup can feel like you’re wandering into unknown territory. Know you’re in good company with first-time parents everywhere and that you can create a positive first visit with a pediatric dentist for both you and your child with a few bits of information and intentional steps. From quelling your nerves to choosing a pediatric dentist, here are 5 practical ways to prepare for your child’s first dental checkup.
1. Check in with your dental feelings.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who experiences dental anxiety, your child’s first dental checkup may activate your own feelings of worry or anxiety. Though dealing with dental anxiety can be challenging, your child’s first dental checkup is a great opportunity for you to compassionately acknowledge your fears and lean into the self-care and support you need.
Leading up to your child’s checkup, you may consider ways you can soothe stress and nurture your sense of calm and well-being, such as doing exercises you enjoy, cooking a meal you love, or expressing your creativity with art or music (singing in the shower counts!). You may also consider talking with someone you trust, like your partner or therapist, or sharing your concerns with your child’s pediatric dental team, who can provide on-site support and guidance during your child’s visit.
2. Know when to go and why it matters.
Along with the most pressing question of “When do babies get teeth?”, most parents want to know the benefits of early dental visits.
As your child’s smile will undergo many changes as they grow and develop, we’re glad you asked!
Most babies get their bottom two front teeth (called incisors) around six months of age, though some children will get their first teeth as early as three months or as late as 12 months. Because of this variation, the American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that all children have their first dental visit within six months of getting their first tooth or by their first birthday, whichever comes first.
During your child’s first checkup, your pediatric dental team will ensure your child’s mouth is developing normally and that their oral tissues and teeth are strong and healthy. Along with catching potential issues in their earliest stages, your child’s early dental experiences are an ideal opportunity to establish a positive association with dentistry and the good oral health habits that will keep their smile healthy and beautiful for life.
3. Research pediatric dentists in Waldorf, MD.
If you’re thinking of Googling “best pediatric dentist near me” to find a dentist for your child’s first dental checkup, you’re actually on the right track to finding a pediatric dental practice that meets your expectations and your child’s needs. You can gather a wealth of information about a practice just by getting to know their online presence, including their website and online reviews.
As you evaluate a pediatric dentist, look for a practice that offers appointment times that fit your schedule and an office that is conveniently located near your home, school, or workplace. You can also get to know a practice by checking out their FAQs and requesting an interview. And, if you have any local friends or family members with kids, ask them for their recommendations on the best pediatric dentist they’ve found near them and what they like about the experience.
4. Prepare for the checkup in advance.
Preparing for your child’s first dental checkup can help you and your child have the most positive experience. If you’re unsure about coverage, you can check in with your dental insurance provider before the appointment to prevent unnecessary stress the day of your child’s appointment. Additionally, to ensure your and your child’s needs are met, write down a list of your questions and concerns and share them with your child’s pediatric dental time during your practice interview or first visit.
You can also help your child prepare for their first visit by adding the dentist to storytime, entertainment, and play. Stories and make-believe play help your child understand and process the world around them, even before they’re old enough to describe or repeat what’s happening. Along with infusing their experience with fun and positivity, including the dentist in their developmental play can help make the dentist a normal and safe part of life.
5. Set your expectations high.
A trip to the pediatric dentist is about more than counting and cleaning teeth (though we do that too!). During every visit to your child’s pediatric dentist, you can expect to be welcomed into a kid-friendly environment by a compassionate team that enjoys working with family and kids. You can also expect to have the opportunity to ask your questions and receive personalized, age-appropriate education on gum and tooth care, brushing techniques, nutrition, and oral habits, such as pacifier use and thumb-sucking.
Prepare yourself and your child for a successful first dental checkup.
The entire team at We Make Kids Smile is here to help you and your child have a positive dental experience from the very beginning and through every developmental stage. For more information or to schedule an appointment for your child’s first dental checkup in Waldorf or Prince Frederick, MD, contact our office today.