5 Things Parents Need to Know About the Dentist

We know that visiting the dentist can be difficult for a young child and you, as a parent. Many of our parents ask “What do we need to know before coming to the office?”, or “How can I prepare my child for his/her appointment?”

There’s no perfect answer, and you know your child best. But we came up with a list of 5 things we wish every parent knew and some of them may help you. Our goal is for every child to have a happy, successful visit. With some planning and preparation, we can get closer to our goal every day!

Your Child Should See a Dentist at Age 1

The age one dental visit is a recently revised recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. The previous recommendation for the first dental visit was at three years of age. This change occurred after years of dentists diagnosing dental cavities on their three year old new patients.

Our goal as dentists is to try and prevent these cavities from occurring, and we start with prevention techniques at the child’s first dental visit. Establishing a dental home early in a child’s life helps in a lot of ways:

  • It exposes the child to prevention and early intervention before problems occur
  • It helps reduce anxiety
  • It helps facilitate referrals if needed

Practice Makes Perfect!

Help prepare your child for their trip to the dentist by taking away their fear of the unknown. Here are a few simple ideas that you can do at home in the days leading up to your appointment:

  • Read books about the dentist.
  • Color in coloring books about the dentist.
  • Play pretend with a mirror and practicing opening/closing your mouth.
  • Look at pictures of the dentist’s office, staff, and happy patients on their website to familiarize your child with the new sights.
  • You can also make a trip to the dentist office prior to their first appointment to take a tour!

All of these ideas are easy ways for parents to alleviate the fears that children may have. But that’s not all…

Hide Any Fears YOU Have About The Dentist

Many parents have negative feelings about going to the dentist. If possible, try to keep these feelings to yourself. As you know, your child’s brain soaks up information like a sponge. Allow them to have their own personal experience at the dentist – and who knows, they might enjoy their visit!

We Are Prepared For Anything

Pediatric Dentists specialize in treating all types of children and adults with special needs – no matter the health history, behavior concerns, or dental needs. The office is prepared with all the staff, equipment, and techniques necessary to complete safe and effective dental treatment.

You may think your child will be difficult or upset about visiting, but please don’t use that as an excuse to delay treatment. Believe us when we say we’ve seen it all…and then some!

We hope that this will ease any fears you may have about taking your child to the dentist. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns prior to your visit so we can help address them. We hope to make this experience a good one for your family.

Schedule Regular 6 Month Check-Ups

Regular dental check-ups are important to your child’s dental health and ultimately your child’s overall health. At check-up appointments, your child will have a professional cleaning and fluoride treatment.

The dentist will also evaluate your child’s brushing/flossing habits, the health of their teeth and gums, take any necessary x-rays, and provide any necessary referrals if needed.

Regular checkups can help prevent more serious (and more expensive) dental work in the future.

Your Turn: Questions/Concerns?

Do you have any other questions or concerns? We’d love to know so we can answer them in future posts. Please leave a comment here! Thanks!

Elizabeth Cook Miller, D.D.S., M.S. is a pediatric dentist at Atkins, Maestrello, Miller & Associates Pediatric Dentistry in Richmond, VA. She is a new mother, active runner and her favorite movie is "Finding Nemo".

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