The idea of a first dental visit for your child can be very daunting. You might be thinking – Do they need a dentist this early? I don’t think my child has any problems? I didn’t go to a dentist until I was much older?
Rest assured that the first dental visit for your child is not designed to only fix problems. Our goal is to establish a dental home for your child, start an early dialogue on health and disease prevention, and educate you, the parent. Dr. Phil is here to guide you from the earliest days of your child’s life through the moment they transition to life as a young adult.
Establishing a dental home is the most important aspect of the first dental visit. We, along with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), recommend establishing a dental home as early as the arrival of the first tooth and no later than the child’s 1st birthday. Dr. Phil wants to ensure that your child has access to comprehensive, compassionate, and family-centered oral healthcare.
Some of the goals of early visits:
1) Assess ability to breastfeed – if mom’s goal is to breastfeed and she runs into early problems, a comprehensive assessment and collaboration with other specialists can help get to the bottom of the issue.
2) Educate – prevention and awareness is Dr. Phil’s core practice philosophy. Educating the parent can lead to effective prevention of disease and injury and can assist the child in receiving timely care if intervention is required.
3) Develop a good dental patient – a close relationship with a dentist can help the child maintain a healthy and comfortable view of oral healthcare. Preventing disease and pain lead to pleasant visits and help to reduce anxiety, stress, or fear.
4) Timely intervention – hopefully you have decided to take your child in for their first dental visit prior to running into problems. However, things don’t always go according to plan. Early visits can also help your child receive timely treatment before concerns lead to pain, infection, or early tooth loss.
The best thing you can do for your child is to remain positive and calm about the dentist. It is very easy to project your own experiences, especially the negative ones. It is very important to provide your child with an opportunity to develop their own experience with the dentist. Over time, the goal is to string together many positive visits and reduce anxiety around the dental appointment.
Here are some recommendations:
1) Give Dr. Phil a jumpstart on trust-building process with your child. Here are some of Dr. Phil’s qualities that you can share with your child – funny, really nice, very patient, good explainer, very gentle, an expert with kid’s teeth.
2) Use kid friendly words like toothbrush, tooth mirror, tooth counter, spit sucker, bubble blower, air conditioner, toothpaste, and teeth vitamins.
3) Defer any tough questions to Dr. Phil – use phrases like “that is a good question! I bet Dr. Phil can help answer that question better than mommy/daddy can.”
4) Read some of our practice’s Google/Facebook reviews to your child.
5) Be mindful of the words used in most children’s books that talk about the dental visit- “scary”, “fear”, “worried”, “nervous”, “pain”. Most books share a similar theme but they may unintentionally provoke the same emotions in your children.