Did you know that your child should see a dentist for the first time by their first birthday? That’s right, even if they only have one tooth, it’s time to take them in!

Your child’s first pediatric dentist appointment is nerve-wracking for both you and them, but there’s nothing to worry about. We’re here to talk about how to prepare and what you can expect from your pediatric dentist in Elizabethtown.

Read on to learn more. 

How to Prepare

Preparing for your child’s first pediatric dentist visit, or even their first visit with an unfamiliar dentist, can seem overwhelming. Sure, you could just show up to the dentist, child in hand, but this might not be the best situation for your young one.

Make sure that you have all of their health information on hand. You should also ask for the forms ahead of time (if possible) so you can fill them out and have them ready to go when you arrive. 

Make a list of any questions or concerns that you may have about your child’s oral health. Common question topics for an infant’s first visit include:

  • Thumb-sucking
  • Diet
  • Bottles
  • Pacifiers

For older children, you may also ask about dental hygiene practices and recommendations for toothpaste and toothbrushes. Don’t ever feel like a question is “silly.” Your local Elizabethtown pediatric dentist wants to help!

You should also use this time to prepare your child for the dentist.

If your child is an infant, get them used to having their mouth and gums touched. It will be different when the dentist does it, but it’s still helpful if your child is used to the sensation.

For older children, consider letting them “play dentist” at home, or showing them dentist-related books and shows to get them used to the idea. This way, going to the dentist won’t seem scary.

Baby and Infant Visits

Ideally, your child’s first visit to the dentist will happen when they’re still an infant. If this is the case, the appointment is going to be fairly straightforward.

It’s most likely that you’ll stay with your child for the duration of the appointment, but there are some exceptions. If you’re concerned, talk to the dentist first so they can prepare you!

This is a great time to ask the dentist any questions that you wrote down before. 

The dentist will also talk to you about best practices for making sure your child grows up with a healthy mouth. They’ll tell you how to start brushing your child’s teeth and gums at home, give you dietary advice, and more.

The Exam

Exams for infants are fairly straightforward.

The dentist will likely complete the exam while the baby is on your lap. They’ll explain everything they’re doing to you, and they may use “kid terms” even if your child isn’t yet old enough to understand.

The dentist will observe your child’s bite, their tooth (or teeth), and their gums. They may also observe how your child moves their mouth.

It’s normal for children to struggle or cry during this first exam. Do your best to soothe your child, but don’t worry. Consider bringing a comfort item for them. 

Do Infants Need Teeth Cleaning?

In some cases, the child will be too young for teeth cleaning. Even if the child has a single tooth, a full cleaning won’t be necessary.

Even if the child has multiple teeth, the dentist may take the child’s temperament into account. If the child seems willing to continue, they may start cleaning. If not, the appointment may end there. 

Your child’s comfort is the top priority.  

Toddler and Older Visits 

So what if you never took your child to the dentist when they were a baby, or if they’ve been to the dentist, but this is their first appointment with a new dentist? 

No worries.

Many parents don’t realize that their children should start seeing a dentist before their first birthday. As a result, their children are toddlers or older when they visit the dentist for the first time. While this isn’t ideal, your child is in good hands.

If your child is seeing a new dentist for the first time due to relocation or their former dentist retiring, that’s fine too! We’re happy to meet them. 

Again, it’s likely that you’ll stay with your child for the duration of the appointment, but don’t be afraid to ask ahead of time. Make sure to ask the list of questions that you brought with you!

The Exam

Dental exams for older children and toddlers are more in-depth than those for infants. They have more teeth to work with, more time for problems to have arisen, and the dentist can get a better idea of what their bite and future growth will look like. 

This time, the dentist will be talking to the child just as much as they’re talking to you. They’ll walk the child through every stage of the exam and they’ll explain the tools they’re using. They’ll also explain “why” they’re doing each thing. 

If the dentist notices any concerns, they’ll discuss them with you and your child. This first exam is usually brief.

Dental Cleaning

Most of the time, a child’s first dental cleaning is far more gentle than an adult’s. The dentist will show the child all of their tools before they start using them.

The dentist will remove hardened plaque with a special tool, floss the child’s teeth, and then polish them. They may also offer a fluoride rinse. 

Is It Time for a Visit to the Pediatric Dentist in Elizabethtown? 

Your child’s first visit to a pediatric dentist in Elizabethtown might be just as scary for you as it is for them! Don’t worry. Pediatric dentists know all about how to put children (and their worried parents) at ease!

Your child will be in safe hands. 

At Elizabethtown Dentistry for Kids, we aim to make every child feel comfortable at the dentist. Contact us to set up an appointment for your little one today.