The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that children have a pediatric dental examination before the age of one. This is primarily because baby teeth tend to start growing in around the age of 1 and need proper care to prevent cavities from forming. In the case that your child’s first visit to the dentist is a little delayed, these are some fun ways to prepare older kids for their first visit to help eliminate any anxiety:
Don’t use words like a needle, pain, and/or blood!
These kinds of words paint a scary picture for kids. While you may want to use the correct terminology with your kids, there are ways to educate them without frightening them.
Replace trigger words with these terms:
Sleepy juice: The medicine used to numb the mouth
Sweet air: Nitrous oxide, also known as inhalation sedation
Mr. Whistle: Drill, used to get rid of tooth decay
Washing the tooth: Drilling the tooth
Mr. Thirsty: Suction that is used to clear excess saliva
Sugar bug: A cavity
Count the teeth: Examination
Tickle the teeth: Tooth cleaning
White star or silver star: Dental filling used to fill the decayed area that has been drilled out
Water gun: Pressurized water that is used to rinse the teeth and gums
Create an age-appropriate story about what will happen at the dentist, for example:
The dentist is going to count your teeth, and then she will brush them so that they are squeaky clean!
The dentist is going to put your teeth to sleep with some sleepy juice, then Mr. Whistle is going to help wash your tooth to get rid of the sugar bug. Mr. Thirsty is Mr. Whistle’s friend, so he will help him wash your tooth. After that, she will put a white star on your tooth for good luck!
What should I expect?
Upon your arrival, you will check in at the front desk. Most likely, you will wait a few minutes in the waiting room before being called in. The dentist will introduce themselves to your child and explain what they are going to do before they do it. Most pediatric dentists use the tell-show-do method, where they explain what will happen, show them on a model of teeth and then do what they said. This helps to eliminate the fear of the unknown.
Should I accompany my child while they have their exam done?
This is generally left up to the parent to decide, although with younger kids the dentist may recommend that a parent accompany the child for an extra source of comfort. If you do decide to accompany your child to the dental chair, it is important that you let the dental team solely handle the dentistry, unless you are asked to help.
Why should I worry about baby teeth if they’re going to fall out eventually?
Just because baby teeth fall out, doesn’t mean they are unimportant. Baby teeth set the stage for the adult teeth to come in, so many times if the baby teeth aren’t healthy, this follows with the adult teeth. Additionally, your child may still experience pain even in their baby teeth. Establishing good dental hygiene habits at a young age is important so that they use these habits in their adult years to prevent gum disease, tooth decay and pain!
Advanced Children’s Dentistry is a pediatric dental practice that provides an educational and fun experience for kids. Dr. Sybil is exceptionally skilled at teaching her little patients about their dental health and making sure they know how to keep their mouths healthy. Schedule a pediatric dental appointment at 516-758-KIDS.