First visit to the dentist
At what age?
Dental professionals agree that the suggested average age for the first visit to the dentist is 12 months, or 6 months after the first teeth appear.
The first dental examination with teeth cleaning takes place around the age of 3. At this age, your child will be able to express himself, demonstrate his understanding and be more open to this encounter. If your child is well prepared, it will become a pleasant moment of discovery and will lay a solid foundation for his future dental hygiene habits.
As a parent, until your child reaches the age of about 8, you will be their reference for the importance of oral health: your child will observe you in your dental hygiene habits and you will perform daily cleanings and examinations of their teeth. Establish a positive routine so that these gestures and habits become natural.
Prevention is a priority
Your child should see the dentist for the first time for a routine checkup, before there is any pain or factors that may cause feelings of fear or dread. If this happens, even with good resolutions, the child may associate follow-up visits to the dentist with feelings of pain and will be fearful of each future visit. Your dentist may not be able to treat your child because of a strong fear or because the cavity(s) are too large. In both of these situations, your dentist may recommend follow-up with a pedodontist: the specialist in dental treatment for children.
Dental care not covered by the RAMQ
Dental examinations and amalgam fillings on primary teeth are covered by the RAMQ. Preventive treatments (cleanings, application of fluoride and sealants) and white fillings are not. These treatments can be submitted to your private insurer if you have family dental coverage.
Good preparation will ensure that your child perceives this first meeting as an interesting, even exciting, event that is part of the natural course of events. Here are a few tips that can get you started:
Show them examples they can relate to
There are many books and cartoons where their favorite characters go to the dentist. This way, his next visit to the dental clinic will be closer to his daily reality.
Adopt a positive attitude
Avoid pressuring by talking about pain and cavities if your child does not want to cooperate. Never tell the child that it won’t hurt during the appointment. It is best not to mention your negative experiences in order to remove your child from a programming that will predispose him/her to feelings of worry and fear. You can adopt an attitude in your actions and words that will make your child perceive the first visit as a new and interesting experience.
Avoid “surprise factors” that can confuse him
Explain to your child that the visit will take place in a clinic with a special chair and light, and that the dentist will wear a mask and gloves. This will avoid the confusion your child may feel when visiting the dentist for the first time.
If you are comfortable with your own appointments, some dentists will allow your child to accompany you and attend your exam so you can show them that everything is going well! As long as he or she can be accompanied by another adult to be able to return to the waiting room.
Tame the place
In order to get used to the place, even before having your own appointment, it can be positive to bring your child to a short appointment of another family member. If this is not possible, arrive early enough so that your child can get acclimated to the place before being called to the room.
The course of his first appointment
You may be asked to sit in the dentist’s chair to hold your child during the examination. For older children, you may be asked to return to the waiting room once the initial contact has been made.
When your dentist sees your child for his or her first examination, the dentist will build confidence by addressing your child calmly, seating your child in the chair and showing your child some of the equipment and instruments such as the small mirror, air gun and water gun. Depending on the child’s cooperation and comfort, the dentist will perform a mouth examination and, if possible, continue with a tooth polishing.
This first contact will allow your child to have a positive encounter with the dentist. The team will examine your child’s teeth and review brushing techniques with you.
Surprises at the dentist
After the appointment, your child will be able to choose the model of his new toothbrush. We will also give him a silver coin to choose his surprise from the toy tower.
Your child will feel proud to take this new step like a grown-up!