Getting Ready for Your Child’s First Visit to the Dentist

There are a lot of milestones to experience during a child’s first few years of life. Heading to the dentist isn’t one most parents think much about until the day arrives.

When Is the Right Time?

Most dental professionals agree that a child should make their first trip to the dentist around age 1, or around the time his or her first tooth erupts. This helps the dentist check things out early to avoid problems in the future, create a relationship with the young patient and help establish dental visits as part of a child’s normal routine.

What Dentist Should I Choose?

You may love your dentist, but think about what his/her office may look like to a small child. Most adult dentists are not equipped to handle small children or their dental needs. Their equipment is too big, the atmosphere is too adult-like and the staff isn’t properly trained for dealing with young ones.
Instead, choose a dental office that caters to the young and growing patient. Look for a kid-friendly office (one that is bright and cheery) that offers specialized services for children and who knows how to build a friendly rapport with young patients.

Preparing Your Child for the Big Day

Kids tend to feel anxious when they think their parents are anxious, so don’t make a big deal about your child’s first dental visit. Sure, talk about it with them, but don’t get too excited and be careful about the words you use when describing the visit. Never say “it won’t hurt.” That will only set an expectation that it will.
Here are some tips for getting ready for the big day:

  • Take small children to the office with older siblings. That way the environment will be more familiar to them.
  • Practice opening wide in front of a mirror. Kids love to show off, so explain that the dentist wants to see their beautiful teeth.
  • Read a book once or twice that explains a dental visit with your child a few days (or weeks, or both!) before the visit.

Once You Arrive

Be calm and nonchalant when driving to the office for your appointment. Be on time, but don’t be too early to avoid having to wait too long.
Most children’s dentists have waiting rooms filled with toys, books, video games, etc. Allow your child to explore. This will help alleviate any stress and make the appointment more fun.

At Playtime Dental, we understand that preparing yourself and your child for such a big milestone can seem stressful. By catering to young and growing patients, we know exactly how to make your first (and subsequent) visits as easy and enjoyable as possible. Be sure to talk with our staff about what you can do to make your child’s first dental visit as smooth as possible.

Is Dental Sedation Safe for Children?

When it comes to dental sedation and your child, safety should be everyone’s first concern. Something as important as sedating a child for a dental procedure should only be done by an expert in children’s health, such as a children’s dentist. 

Not only does a kid’s dentist have the expertise and knowledge of safe sedation methods for children, they are trained how to help a nervous child feel safe and comfortable during a dental procedure. This is vital in order to protect the child’s personal sense of well-being.

Laughing Gas for Nervous Children 

If a child feels overly stressed or frightened, dental sedation may be necessary to help the patient relax and feel calm. The most popular choice for this is nitrous oxide, or laughing gas as it is commonly called. Oxygen mixed with laughing gas is administered with a mask over the child’s nose. 

This type of dental sedation will start to take effect within minutes and the child will begin to feel happy and relaxed.  Immediately following the procedure, only oxygen will be given via the mask to make sure all laughing gas is removed from the child’s system.

Putting Safety First 

Before your children’s dentist performs a procedure, they will ask questions about your child. Any medical concerns, such as allergies, previous illness or a pre-existing health condition will be noted and taken into consideration. 

When speaking with your child’s dentist, be sure to answer all questions as thoroughly as possible. Also, provide the child’s general physician’s name and phone number for the dentist to contact for more information if necessary, especially if your child has a medical condition. 

You should also inform the dentist if your child receives any sort of medication, vitamin supplements, or over-the-counter health products. All of this information is important for the dentist to know in order to determine what type of dental sedation is suitable for your child.

Depending on the type of sedation a child may need, a kid-friendly dentist will give instructions to parents about eating and drinking prior to the procedure.  When using laughing gas for sedation, a light meal is recommended prior to the procedure.  A heavy meal or no meal can cause nausea when using laughing gas for sedation.  For IV sedation, an empty stomach is vital in order to prevent your child from vomiting and inhaling the stomach’s contents into their lungs.  

If you have any questions about dental sedation, do not hesitate to contact our office. We can discuss options for your child’s dental procedures and talk further with you about the safety precautions we use.