It is recommended that children begin seeing a dentist by their first birthday. Much attention has been paid to when and why a child should see the dentist, and the special risks that children often deal with in caring for their teeth, but what about the relationship between a dentist and child?

As a parent, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your child develops good habits, and going to the dentist is a habit they’ll need to keep up for the rest of their lives. Establishing a good relationship between your child and the dentist can go a long way towards preventing avoidance of the dentist and health concerns when your child gets older.

So what should you be looking for to make sure that your child’s relationship with their dentist gets off to a good start? What will your child want in a dentist that still manages to get the job done well?

A Good Dentist

Look for a dentist that offers first dental visits for children that don’t involve a lot of treatment. This gets the child used to the dentist and makes sure their first memory of the dentist doesn’t inspire fear.

Some dentists may ask the parent to sit in the dental chair and hold their child during the exam. Some parents may be asked to wait in reception during part of the visit so the child can start to build a relationship with the dentist without being distracted by the parent.

Whatever you and your child are comfortable with should prevail.

The first visit usually involves checking the child’s teeth, examining their bite, and looking for any issues of the tooth, gums, and oral tissues. If the child can handle it, a hygienist may also come in and clean the teeth. They will assess the need for fluoride and give good tips on oral health care. They may offer recommendations for products that might work well with your child and they can answer any questions you might have about your child’s oral health routine and dental developmental issues.

They will also start you on a schedule of dental checkups. Expect appointments every 6 months to build comfort and confidence with the child, and monitor the development of their teeth to catch any problems as soon as possible.

Extra Training

Pediatric dentists have at least 2 more years of training beyond dental school. This training focuses on concerns specifically related to child development, child behavior, physical growth, and the special needs of children’s dentistry. Though either type of dentist is capable of caring for your child, pediatric dentists are specially trained to understand and work with both you and your child to help build good habits and detect problems early, which can lessen the amount of fear your child may experience when visiting with the dentist.

Pediatric dentists also often have clinic hours, décor, and practices designed to cater to their young patients, making their visit easier on them.

Overcoming Fear

If your child has a bad visit or otherwise develops a fear of the dentist, pediatric dentists are specially equipped to handle these challenges in many productive ways. With regular visits and a good pediatric dentist, it’s possible to work with your child to alleviate their concerns so their relationship isn’t damaged.

Make sure that you choose a pediatric dentist who is willing to answer your questions in a way that makes you feel comfortable with your choice to put your child in their hands. A good dentist should be willing to work with you and your child to make sure that their emotional needs are met, as well as their physical needs.