Pediatric Dental Visits 101

What you need to know about visiting the dentistWhether you’re a new parent or simply refreshing your pediatric dentist knowledge, take a look at our quick guide to taking your children to the dentist. It will help make your visits go smoothly and keep your children smiling.

When should my child first go to the dentist?

Most dentists recommend that your child’s first visit to the dentist should happen around his first birthday.  This will allow the dentist to exam his mouth and gums and make sure that everything looks as it should.  Full examinations of teeth (including cleanings and x-rays) usually begin around age 3.

How often should I take my child to the dentist?

It is recommended that you take your children in for a dental visit every six months.  This allows the dentist to give their teeth a proper cleaning and examination.  Regular examinations are key in catching any potential problems in their earliest stages, allowing the dentist to fix them quickly.

How do I prepare my child for her first trip to the dentist?

The best way to prepare your child is to give him or her a brief and easy summary of what will happen while she is there.  Good descriptions often include the idea of “the dentist will want to take a picture of your mouth” or “the dentist will want to count your teeth” or “the dentist will want to see your smile.” Avoid using words like “pain” or “discomfort”. Speak positively about the dentist and what happens in the office in order to help your child see the dentist as a friendly place instead of a scary one.

What should I bring with me to the dentist?

A pediatric dentist office is specifically geared toward treating children and will often have a play space with books, games and toys for the children to use while they are waiting. It is not necessary to bring any other additional items unless you know that your child has a specific need.  Otherwise, all you need to bring is your insurance card or method of payment, your identification, and a smile.

Should I reward my child for going to the dentist?

If a child is well behaved during a trip to the dentist, it is always a good idea to reward that good behavior with something special, such as a trip to the park or a favorite book.  Try to avoid giving sugary rewards, as this will only undermine what the dentist teaches about the importance of eating good foods.  However, be careful that you are not rewarding your child for “surviving” the dentist office.  This will only enforce a negative view of the dentist.  Instead, simply give a reward for being well behaved in public and toward other people.