Parents play an important role in setting their child up for a lifetime of positive oral health. The Canadian Dental Association recommends a dentist assessing your child within six months of their first tooth erupting or by your child’s first birthday, whichever comes first.

Why so young? The goal of the first dental visit is to get your child comfortable with dental professionals and to identify any issues with your child’s teeth before they become problems.

Happy Visits

Many dental offices, including my practice, offer no-charge Happy Visits. The purpose of the Happy Visit is to ensure your child is relaxed and at ease at the dentist.

During Happy Visits at Norwood Dental Centre, we give your child a spin in our cool dental chair, count their teeth and look for any issues, and show your child our dental gadgets, such as the air/water syringe and the suction (a.k.a. Mr. Thirsty!). From there, the child receives a take-home hygiene kit and gets to pick a toy from our toy treasure chest. The more interested your child becomes in his or her dental care, the better chance of great oral hygiene!

Happy Visits are also important for mom and dad, as they allow time to discuss any dental issues I’ve seen as well as any questions you, as a parent,  may have.

The First Check-Up and Cleaning

Once your child is comfortable with going to the dentist, typically between the ages of two and four following the Happy Visit, it’s  are usually time for your child’s first official check-up and cleaning. During this visit, we complete a formal oral health exam, clean your child’s teeth, and take x-rays if the child allows. (And, as always, we end the visit on a high note with a trip to the toy chest!).

Preparing For Your Child’s First Dental Visit

As a parent, you can help prepare your child for a successful first dental visit.

My top tips on how are below:

  • Be a good role model.

Let your kids see you brush and floss daily. Seeing you maintain your oral health signals to your kids the importance of strong dental hygiene. Talk to your kids about why you’re brushing and flossing, and engage them in a dialogue about why it’s important they do the same.

  • Check out some dental-themed children’s books.

There are lots of great children’s books about visiting the dentist. Reading these books together can help familiarize and mentally prepare your child for what a dental visit is like. Some of my favourite titles include:

Peppa Pig™ Dentist Trip (Scholastic Inc.)
Dora the Explorer Goes to the Dentist (Random House)
Jarod Giraffe Goes to the Dentist (Leelah Hope)
Noah’s Visit to the Dentist (Speedy Publishing, LLC)

We have copies of all of these books at our practice, so parents can read them to their little ones before heading into their appointment.

  • Introduce oral care into play.

Keep the conversation going and introduce oral care into play. Play is important to your child’s learning and development, and is a relaxed way to continue discussion about dental hygiene.

There are numerous dental-specific toys out there, such as Dentist Barbie, Playmobil® Dentist and Patient, Play-Doh Doctor Drill and Fill Set, and JOYIN Doctor/Dentist Play Set. These toys are great, but you can just as easily incorporate oral health conversations with other toys too. Does the doll or action figure need to brush their teeth too, perhaps?

  • Make use of YouTube.

In addition to many excellent cat videos, YouTube has some great educational content to help prepare your child for their first dental visit. Parents have told me they’ve found “Caillou at the Dentist,” “Dentist Video (Sesame Street)”, “Dudley Visits the Dentist,” and “Billy Blue Hair – Why Do I Have to Go to the Dentist?” quite helpful. These videos offer another medium to introduce your child to dental visits in a friendly and fun manner.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be setting your child up for a great first dental visit and great oral habits for life. Thanks for reading and happy brushing and flossing!

About Dr. William Chin

Dr. William Chin is a general dentist and the owner of Norwood Dental Centre. His practice is focused on delivering surprisingly friendly dental care with no white coats, no judgement, and no pressure.

Connect with Norwood Dental Centre at 780-474-2456 or at www.norwood-dental.ca.