When should the recommended first dental appointment take place?
Parents living in Iceland should receive the first information on teeth and child dental care in mandatory postnatal care, which parents attend from the child’s very first days onward. It is therefore generally not considered necessary for young children to visit a dentist until around the time most of the baby teeth have surfaced, or around 2 and 3 years of age. If, however, the parents are worried about something related to teeth or the mouth area, all children are free to visit the dentist at any age.
What kind of a first dentist experience do we want for children?
We aim at making the first dentist visit an enjoyable memory for all children; something positive to remember and talk about again and again. A visit to the dentist’s clinic should be a ceremony in the child’s mind that they can look forward to and even discuss in a positive manner with their friends and family when they get back home. We will, therefore, put our best foot forward in making sure that this will be the case. Research shows, without doubt, that if a child’s first visit to a dentist is enjoyable, the odds of developing dental fear or dental phobia later in life, decreases significantly.
What if my child needs treatment?
Should your child need treatment, i.e. due to dental decay and or dental abnormalities, it is important to decide which treatment is best for the child in order to maintain cooperation and positive attitudes throughout the treatment period. We have several methods to choose from, the main ones being:
- Traditional treatment in a dental chair
- Behavioural treatment and adaptation
- Nitrous Oxide (‘Laughing gas’ or ‘Happy air’)
- General Anaesthezia
It is important to find the appropriate method of treatment for each child and this decision is based on a deliberate discussion between the dentist and the parents/legal guardians.
Important to keep in mind 😊
Before a child makes its first visit to the dentist, it is good for the parents/legal guardians to keep the following in mind:
- Be positive. Children learn by example
- A parent with a dental phobia can inadvertently “infect” their children with it if they are not careful. Children are more sensitive to cues from their parents than people think and unfortunate wording or adult conversation about a difficult experience can create fear in the child.
- Never use a visit to the dentist as a threat or punishment! Example: A sentence such as this one: “If you do not brush your teeth we will have to go see the dentist” …implies that the visits to the dentist are not fun at all. This will not help when it is time to make the actual dentist visit.
- Be careful not to make promises of big prizes if the child behaves well at the dentist clinic. This creates a lot of pressure and stress for the child, and should the child not be able to behave perfectly and the visit is not a success, then the disappointment will be huge. It is subsequently unlikely for the child to want to visit the dentist again.
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