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How to Prepare Your Child for Their First Dental Visit

Your child’s first dental visit is an important one – this appointment sets the stage for a lifetime of healthy smiles.  

During this first visit, your pediatric dentist checks to make sure that your child’s teeth and jaw are developing as they should. They will also look for any injuries, cavities, and other dental issues common in children to address and correct before they worsen.

One such issue is early childhood tooth decay, which is similar to the dental caries (cavities) that kids of all ages can develop. The thing that makes early childhood tooth decay different is that it can develop as soon as your child gets their first tooth. Early childhood tooth decay can also progress rapidly, putting your child’s first teeth in danger. Left untreated, tooth decay and other dental problems developing early in life can have lifelong effects.  

Fortunately, your child can avoid some of these problems by visiting the dentist early in life.  You can take steps to make their first visit goes smoothly – no fear, no fuss, and all fun!

How to Prepare Your Child to See the Dentist for the Very First Time

Determine the right age for your child’s first visit to the dentist

The American Dental Association recommends making an appointment with your pediatric dentist soon after your child’s first tooth appears or no later than their first birthday. If you hadn’t taken your child in for their first visit during this recommended timeframe, don’t worry – your pediatric dentist is happy to see your little one at any age, and can work with you to ensure your child is on track for healthy teeth and mouth development.

Choose the right dentist

For children’s dental care, especially for any special needs children, it’s important to look for a dental office that specializes in pediatric dentistry. While all dentists are trained to provide dental care for children, pediatric dentists undergo 2 extra years of training that allows them to provide specialized care to children, including those with special needs. Give your child’s smile a great head start with our pediatric dentist in Rockville MD.  

Schedule the appointment at the right time of day

Try to avoid scheduling your child’s appointment during naptime, for example, or during their favorite activity. It may also be helpful to schedule the appointment at the time of day when your child is most awake and most likely to be in a good mood.  

Talk positively about what will happen

Research shows that parents can pass on their fear of the dentist onto their children. Let your child know that it is perfectly normal to be a little nervous of their first visit to the dentist, as doing new things can be scary. Keep a positive atmosphere and allow your kids to ask questions. Talk about what they can expect when they’re in the dental chair, like how the dentist will count their teeth, or use a special toothbrush with fun toothpaste flavors.  

Roleplay with your child

Roleplaying in a make-believe dental office gives your child a chance to act out what will happen during their dental appointment, creating a sense of familiarity and ease before they ever step foot in a real dental office. Start by picking out a favorite stuffed animal. Introduce yourself as the dentist, lay the toy in a chair, and pretend to count and brush the toy’s teeth – be sure to tell the toy what you are doing, and explain why dental hygiene is important. You can trade places, too, letting your child pretend to be the dentist.  

Watch videos together or read stories to them about going to the dentist

Videos and stories may make going to the dentist seem less scary. Kids can see or hear about other children getting dental care, so they know a little bit about what to expect before they ever sit in a dentist’s chair.  

Bring a favorite toy

A stuffed animal or other favorite toy can be a supportive friend, offering additional comfort beyond a parent’s presence.  

Know that wiggling, crying, and fussing is normal

Don’t worry if your child cries or wiggles a little during this visit – it is very normal, and your child’s dentist is most certainly used to it. In fact, dentists who specialize in pediatric dentistry are exceptionally good at helping kids relax during their first dental visit, so don’t be surprised if your child has a smile on their face by the end of the visit.

Where do I find a pediatric dentist near me?

For more tips on how to prepare your child for their first trip to the dentist, connect with SuperKids Pediatric Dentistry. We have several convenient locations around the DC area, and our skilled pediatric dentists are eager to help you and your child build a solid foundation for a lifetime of smiles.

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We are excited to announce the GRAND OPENING of our fifth Superkids office in Mt Vernon, VA. Accepting new patients starting January 16th, 2023!

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