Your toddler's first visit to the dentist can be a nervewracking experience. It doesn't have to be, though, if you know what to expect. This article will walk you through what to expect at that first visit.

Did you know that for every dollar spent on preventative dental maintenance for your kids, you save between $8 and $50 in emergency and restorative dental treatments? A toddler's first dentist visit marks an important step in ensuring their dental health. But when should you schedule their first visit, and what should you expect?

Read on for what you need to know about the first dentist appointment for kids.


When to Go

When should you schedule your child's first dental appointment? Dentists recommend making an appointment with a pediatric dentist once their first tooth has come in or they're one year old. Schedule based on whichever event comes first.

While you're waiting for your appointment, teach your child to brush their teeth two times a day. That way, they can impress their new dentist with pearly whites on their first visit. It's all about creating good habits, so the younger the better.

Once your dentist has taken a closer look at your little one's mouth, they'll be able to tell you how often to schedule future appointments. In general, toddlers should see the dentist twice a year or about every six months. A great way to keep track of future appointments is by scheduling each new one at the end of your current visit.

The Deal When It Comes to Pediatric Dentists

Some parents take their toddlers to the same dentist that they use, and this can be a great option. That is, if your dentist is used to small patients and does well with children. In most cases, it's best to look for a special pediatric dentist for your child.

What's so special about a pediatric dentist? They work primarily with children, and they have additional training in the unique needs of children. What's more, they have a whole arsenal of ways to deal with upset, squirming, and crying kiddos.

Finding a Dentist You Trust

Now that you know why you need a pediatric dentist, here are some things to keep in mind as you look for the right dental office to suit you and your family's needs.

Make sure you find an office that's conveniently located. Ideally, it should be near your work, school, or home to make getting to appointments a breeze.

Look for an office that understands the needs of a family when it comes to booking appointment. Some offices offer weekend appointments or evening hours to help fit around school and work schedules. Online booking is a new feature offered by many offices that will make managing appointments easier, too.

The whole point of a pediatric dentist is a kid-friendly environment. So, look for an office that's decorated for little ones and features staff who are friendly, entertaining, and patient. The dentist and staff should love what they do, which will shine through during each visit.

What to Expect at the First Appointment

Your toddler's first appointment will likely be quick and informal. The point is introducing your little one to the dentist and warming them up to the idea of future dental visits. If your child does well and seems relaxed, your dentist may ask you to hold them while they take a look at their mouth.

Alternately, some dentists prefer to have you sit in the waiting room while they and their staff get to know your toddler. Your dentist will briefly inspect your child's mouth for signs of decay. They'll also examine their bite, jaw alignment, and gums.

Depending on your child's level of comfort during the visit, a hygienist may briefly clean their teeth. Some children undergo a fluoride preparation. This helps with stains and cavity prevention.

The Dentist Can Be Fun!

While it's normal to have anxiety about new experiences, your child shouldn't have negative associations with dentists (like many adults do.) So, be careful about passing your own fears along to them. A visit to the dentist can be fun, after all.

Pediatric dentists usually play fun videos in their waiting room. They have surprises for kids at the end of their visit. What's more, the dentist chair goes up and down like an amusement ride.

Activities to Ease Your Toddler's Fears

That said, if your kid expresses fear or worry, there are a few things you can do to help them cope and feel more at ease. Here's a list of great activities to help prepare your toddler for their first appointment:

  • help your child pack a favorite toy or comfort item to bring along
  • encourage your little one during the appointment with compliments about how well they're doing
  • read kid's books about dentists
  • stay positive when talking about their upcoming visit

Children are excellent reads of their parents. They're also highly intuitive, so be conscious about nonverbal cues that you may be sending them. If they sense stress in you, they'll stress so stay calm and happy.

Your Toddler's First Dentist Visit

As your children grow, they face many beautiful milestones that should be celebrated. Your toddler's first dentist visit represents one of these milestones. By following the tips above, you'll secure a great pediatric dentist whose office puts your child at ease. Be sure to take a deep breath, too, so that your child doesn't pick up on any stress from you.

Celebrate this event in your child's life by taking photos and reminding them how big they're getting. Encourage them during the visit to interact with the dentist and office staff so that your child relaxes and enjoys the experience.

A Great Experience

Expect your child to walk away from their first dental appointment with a newfound confidence, a fun memory, and a surprise. After the appointment, discuss with your child how they felt during the appointment. A great way to help kids communicate their feelings is by reminding them of a book (or two) that you read about going to the dentist and then asking them if they felt the same way.

Interested in learning more about pediatric dentistry for your child? Follow our blog for more information. Or, contact us today to discuss your child's needs.