A child’s first visit to the dentist provides an excellent opportunity to establish a good, long-lasting relationship between the dentist and patient, as well as to help them establish and maintain good dental hygiene. It is during this initial visit that a happy, comforting and supportive environment needs to be established and maintained for future visits.
We have found that by allowing young children to accompany their parents to their dental appointments it provides them with an opportunity to become accustomed to the sights, sounds and staff present in the dental practice.
By observing their family members undergo their dental appointment, it helps to mentally prepare them for their own visit in the future. Through this approach children will have several opportunities to view the process which they themselves will ultimately go through, thereby helping to prevent any sense nervousness or anxiety.
An additional benefit of having your children present whilst attending your own dental appointment is the opportunity to raise any concerns or queries that you may have regarding their dental state or development eg. appearance of new teeth, dark areas in the mouth, methods to clean their teeth etc.
Since our young children look up to us for guidance they will usually replicate what they see and hear their family members do. Thus during your dental appointments it is essential to maintain a positive outlook and behaviour towards your own dental care, as well as with your interactions with the dentist and staff. By observing the positive and encouraging behaviour exhibited by yourself and your family members it will help to reinforce that same behaviour and attitude for your child.
During your dental appointments feel free to ask the dentist any questions regarding dental hygiene practices as well as appropriate dietary recommendations for your children. At different stages of their dental development the hygiene practices and dietary exposure will change, with the dentist being able to provide advice regarding ways to help maintain the health of your child’s teeth and gums. There are also several habits that that may affect the growth and development of your child’s teeth and jaws which the dentist will monitor for and advise you of if they arise.
During your child’s first dental appointment they will be warmly greeted by the dentist and staff. The appointment will be carried out in a friendly, relaxing and unhurried manner. During this appointment the dentist will be checking to ensure that all the appropriate teeth are present, ensuring that they are healthy, and to assess the state of the soft tissues in and around the mouth eg. lips, tongue, gums etc.
The level of dental hygiene and current hygiene practices will be assessed and modified if needed. The presence of any adverse habits which may be affecting the growth and development of the teeth and jaws will also be monitored for eg. prolonged mouthbreathing, thumbsucking etc.
If your child is coping very well with the visit, then the dental examination may be followed up with a clean. Alternatively if we are unable to perform the dental clean during this appointment, then it can be carried out at a later date or during their next dental visit.
At the end of the appointment any findings will be discussed with the parents, as well modifications to their current dental hygiene approach or diet if needed.
With the wide range of educational videos available on various media sources eg. youtube, smart phone apps etc. there are several children friendly videos, cartoons and instructionals that can be used help to show your children what to expect when visiting the dentist.
Several of our patients have young children that watch cartoons eg. Pepper pig’s visit to the dentist¸ which helps to educate them regarding good dental hygiene practices, as well as to prepare them for future visits to the dentist. By carefully selecting and showing these videos and apps to your children it can help ensure that their visit to the dentist was well as oral hygiene is a fun and exciting process.
During your visits to the dentist the level of your child’s dental hygiene and presence of tooth decay will be assessed. If any changes are needed then the dentist will provide advice to both you and your child to help make improvements. There is also information forms available at the dental practice which help to address many commonly asked questions, as well as provide tips to help establish and maintain good oral health.