Most people are aware that regular trips to the dental surgery are important for adults and older children, but what about dentist visits for your toddler?
Toddlers can present at dental surgeries with tooth decay, which can be painful and expensive to treat. The good news? It can be prevented.
The Dentist and your baby – it starts now
Many parents express surprise upon discovering that it is recommended for your baby to visit the dentist soon after birth.
“But they don’t even have teeth yet?!”
While your baby is unlikely to have any visible teeth to begin with, the initial visit to the dentist is a very important one.
Sometimes, a dentist can anticipate problems that may occur before the teeth break through. The sooner this is attended to, the better the outcome for your child.
More commonly though, the purpose of the first dentist visit is to discuss care and prevention for your baby’s teeth, from infancy and toddler years and beyond. Hygiene measures such as cleaning and flossing, fluoride use and diet are discussed, as well as any concerns or questions you may have.
It is important to enforce positive dental habits early on for your child’s long term oral health.
Preparing your toddler for a dental surgery visit
While babies are none the wiser to their surroundings, by the time a child has reached the toddler stage they may feel some trepidation about a visit to the dentist.
Finding a gentle dentist who understands the importance of making your child feel settled and secure in the dentist chair is essential – it only takes one bad experience to put them off!
There are also things you can do to make a trip to the dentist an enjoyable experience for your toddler:
• Word it carefully – “It won’t hurt!” may be reassuring to your ears, but your toddler may not have even considered pain until you bought it up. Use positive phrases instead.
• Go in the morning – Kids are usually refreshed and more open to new experiences early on. Take advantage of the timeframe that works best for your child.
• Read them books – There are a number of “toothy” books available to help your child make positive associations with the dentist. For a list of age appropriate books to prepare your child for the dentist, click here.