Having your child see the dentist every six months is a key part of their oral health. But your toddler’s dental care early in life can set them up for a lifetime of healthy teeth or for anxiety that will keep them from going to the dentist for regular checkups even as adults.
Pediatric dentists, like the team at Tooth Fairy Dental in Reno, can help foster a positive experience and can help prevent your child from developing fear or anxiety. Here are some simple ways to establish a healthy toddler-dentist relationship.
Start Dental Visits Early
Most children don’t have their first visit to the dentist until age two, but this is actually much later than they should!
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children should have their first dental visit within six months of the eruption of their first tooth or by age one, whichever comes first.
Regular check ups starting at six months will help ensure that your infant’s dental health is on track.
While these initial visits to the dentist may be mostly informative, they’re crucial for establishing a solid foundation for a future toddler-dentist relationship. If your child visits the dentist starting from an early age, they’ll understand that dental visits are a necessary part of their routine.
Repeated visits to the same pediatric dentist for toddlers will create a sense of trust between your child and the dentist. They’re much less likely to develop any anxiety around the dentist if the dentist becomes someone familiar to them.
Adult vs. Pediatric Dentists for Toddlers
Have you ever wondered what the difference between a regular dentist and a toddler dentist is? It may seem like all dentists are trained to perform the same procedures, but that’s not true. In addition to four years of dental school, pediatric dentists have an additional two years of residency training in dentistry specifically for children and infants.
During this time, pediatric dentists gain experience handling the specific dental needs of children, which can differ from adults. This extra training also means that your toddler’s dentist will have a lot of experience handling children who may be anxious about the dentist.
In addition to their extra training, toddler dentists will go out of their way to make their office a pleasant experience for your child. General dentistry offices may seem intimidating to children.
Opting for a pediatric dentist for toddlers means that your child will feel more comfortable from the start of their appointment to the end. Many pediatric dentists have kid-friendly waiting rooms with toys and games to make your child feel comfortable while they wait. A child-friendly environment can go a long way toward making your toddler feel relaxed at the dentist, and that will help strengthen the bond between toddler and dentist.
Be a Good Example
If your child is nervous about what will happen during their visit, consider bringing them with you to your next dental appointment. Allowing your child to watch you get your teeth cleaned or X-rayed can help prepare them for their own visit. It’s also a good opportunity for your child to ask any questions about the process. Once they see that going to the dentist is a simple, painless process, they won’t worry about their own visit to the dentist.
Some toddler dentists can also treat the entire family. Ask if your pediatric dentist operates a family practice that will treat adults. If your child can see you being treated by their dentist, that can help them feel safe while they’re being treated. If their mom or dad trusts the dentist, that means they can too.
If you’re unable to bring your toddler to your dental visit, ask your toddler dentist if they can perform a mock exam on your child. Having the dentist walk the child through what will happen during their appointment can make them feel more prepared, and it gives your child an opportunity to ask the dentist any questions they may have.
Treat Problems Early
If your child doesn’t like their dentist, it will be much more difficult to get them to cooperate. A child who is reluctant to go to the dentist may avoid going at all, or if they do go, they may be fidgety and uncooperative during procedures. This can lead to major frustration for everyone involved, including parents.
Your child’s relationship to dentistry in their formative years can have a big impact on their dental health for their entire life. A comfortable early experience can make all the difference.
If your child has a good relationship with their dentist, regular dental appointments will be much less stressful. At these regular appointments, your toddler’s dentist can keep track of any potential issues with your child’s teeth and gums. Consistently seeing the same dentist means that the dentist can keep an eye on any issues over time. Regular, timely visits allow the dentist to catch any problems in their early stages when they’re easier and less painful to treat. Your child’s positive relationship with their dentist can help make that happen.
Without a good relationship with the dentist, your child’s teeth and gums may develop issues that will take much longer to diagnose. If issues aren’t detected early, the treatment required will likely be much more drastic and potentially painful. Creating a positive toddler-dentist bond can help avoid these complications.
Start With an Expert Pediatric Dentist
Establishing a healthy, trusting toddler-dentist relationship is an important step toward lifelong proper oral care for your child. When your child feels good about visiting their dentist, they won’t get anxious when they have to go in for a cleaning or procedure. Making sure that your child gets along with their pediatric dentist for toddlers ensures that you can bring your child for their bi-yearly visits without stress.
Schedule Your Child’s Appointment
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