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8024 La Mesa Blvd. La Mesa, CA 91942

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How To Prepare Your Child for the First Dentist Visit

child first visit to children's dentist in La Mesa & El Cajon

We take pride in doing our best to keep your kids’ teeth as healthy as possible, which is why we want to share how all parents can prepare their kids for their first visit with a qualified pediatric dentist. Every February is our National Children’s Dental Health Month here in the US, but the reminders are useful all year long when it comes to preparing kids to receive dental care.

“Visiting the dentist can be a source of anxiety for everyone, not just children,” says children’s dentist La Mesa Dr. Santiago Surillo. “For children especially, it’s important for parents to prepare them for what to expect at the dentist’s office to help ease their mind and get them ready.”

When to Take Baby to the Dentist

Every parent should know that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) highly recommends they take their children to a pediatric dentist by their first birthday or when their first tooth emerges.

The sooner we begin with your child’s dental care, the better the chances of catching any emerging problems and providing timely treatment. Besides, at these early ages, prevention is key.

Why Are Regular Check-Ups Important?

Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 20% of children here in America have to fight cavities between the ages of 2 and 5. Regular check-ups with a pediatric dentist help kids fight the negative effects of tooth decay and prevent it altogether.

Waiting until your kid is older because “baby teeth aren’t important” is a grave mistake. Losing baby teeth prematurely leads to several complications that impact their development considerably. Dr. Surillo also helps children who develop orthodontic problems as a result of premature loss of baby teeth.

Bringing your child to a pediatric dentist’s office helps because parents become better acquainted with proper dental care during infancy. We know that taking care of your kids’ teeth can be challenging, especially for first-time parents; besides, there’s a lot of misinformation online.

Likewise, your kid will benefit from visiting a pediatric dentist because the array of preventative and corrective treatments will help keep their teeth in top shape and continue with their regular activities without additional problems.

Tips to Help Prepare Your Kid to Go to the Dentist

Helping your child feel more comfortable during their dental care is essential for developing a good relationship with their dentist. A little preparation can certainly do a lot, and when you choose the right team to help your kid, they might even be excited to go to the office whenever they’re due for an appointment.

Here are some tips you can follow to help your kid prepare for their first visit to the dentist.

  1. Try to remain positive. Young children are very sensitive to their parents’ emotions. If you transmit anxiety or fear when discussing an upcoming visit to the dentist, your kid will catch on to those feelings and feel apprehensive about visiting the dentist. Try talking to your kid about visits to the dentist in positive terms, and never use it as a threat when your child forgets something related to their dental care.
  2. Get your child used to regular dental care. You should always join your kid during their dental care routine, including brushing and flossing their teeth. As they continue to see you take care of your teeth, they will pick up on healthy habits and feel used to the idea of oral care in the company of their parents.
  3. Schedule appointments at a convenient time. Please don’t schedule visits at regular naptimes if your child has one. Similarly, we should remind you not to program their next visit to the dentist around mealtimes or too late in the day, as it will make a huge difference in how they feel about going to the dentist. The more tired and hungry a kid is, the more difficult it will be for them to feel comfortable during a visit to their La Mesa pediatric dentist.
  4.  Don’t skip on their favorite toy or blanket. Some kids have a comforting item they like to carry around to feel safe. Bring those toys or items along to make their visit to the dentist a safer, if not even more enjoyable, experience right from the start.

Remember to Choose the Best Pediatric Dentist

Your first instinct may be to take your child to the same dentist you see. While your dentist is very well-trained, no doubt, it’s a better idea to ensure your child sees a children’s dentist. A dentist who treats only children will have the tools and tricks to work with even the most anxious child and will have the demeanor and office catered to your child. Most pediatric dentist offices work hard to make your child comfortable from the moment he or she steps into the office and will have staff trained in how to care specifically for children.

Be sure you discuss with the dentist any medications your child may be taking and any health issues that may impact the way your dentist provides care. Your dentist will need to know your child’s medical history, including allergies, in order to provide the best care possible.
Prepare your child.

If you’ve been modeling good oral care at home and ensuring your child brushes and flosses properly, a visit to the dentist should be a breeze. But, it can help to explain beforehand what your child should expect. The first visit is typically short and relatively informal, meant more as a way to introduce your child to the office and the dentist. The dentist will examine your child, and your child’s teeth will be cleaned.

Then, the dentist will discuss proper care habits at home and offer any additional information on the health of your child’s mouth. This will also be a time for questions and answers if you have any concerns. You can help your child feel more comfortable by talking positively about the dentist beforehand, reading books, and playing dentist with your child’s favorite toys. If your child has a comfort toy, feel free to bring it along to the visit to make your child less anxious.

“If you make oral care a priority in your home, visiting the dentist will be natural and normal for your child,” says Dr. Santiago Surillo. “It’s important that parents put their anxieties aside to help ensure that their children have a positive relationship with the dentist. If you are nervous or anxious, that can rub off on your child. Keep an upbeat and positive attitude, and talk about the important role the dentist can play in keeping you healthy.”

When Should I Take My Child to the Orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends parents bring their kids to an orthodontist no later than age 7. Fortunately for you, Dr. Surillo offers dual-specialty services, meaning you can bring your child for their primary dental care and follow up with a certified orthodontist who knows how to make children feel safe and comfortable during their dental care.

Consulting with an orthodontist at such an early age helps ensure that your child’s dental development goes according to plan and corrects any problems as soon as we can spot the signs.

We hope to see you soon!