Getting a 2-year-old to sit still in the dentist’s chair may seem more like a nightmare than a plan, but it’s not only possible, it’s also the right thing to do.
Research shows that pre-school children are getting more cavities. This visit is important for assessing little ones’ risks for dental problems, making the idea of brushing and flossing fun, and it’s a vital step in getting them used to regular dental check-ups.
- Caring for an infant’s or toddler’s mouth
- Oral habits, including finger and thumb sucking
- Ways to prevent accidents that could damage the face and teeth
- Teething and milestones of development
- The link between oral health and diet, and the proper use of fluoride
How do I find the right dentist for my toddler?
Ask your doctor, paediatrician or dentist to refer you to a paediatric dentist who specialises in treating young children, or do an online search for a paediatric dentist. When calling to make your appointment, be sure to ask what age they recommend for a first visit. Ask the dentist’s office to send you any forms in advance so that you don’t have to fill them out on the day of the visit.
Your child may fuss during the dental visit, but you may be surprised to discover how many toddlers are accepting of the examination. If you’re feeling stressed at the thought, bring along a family member or close friend, but not any other small children. Pack an extra nappy, snack and a favourite toy for your little one.
The examination usually takes place knee-to-knee position – you and the dentist sit on chairs facing each other, and your child sits on your lap, facing you. You then lay your child back with his or her head in the dentist’s lap. In this position, your child is looking up at you, but both you and dentist can see clearly into his/her mouth.
The dentist will review any history, discuss teething, development, bite and oral habits such as thumb-sucking and how to prevent accidental trauma to the mouth. Lastly, the dentist will show you how to clean your child’s teeth, suggest a schedule for follow-up visits, and advise you regarding diet, toothbrushes and toothpastes.
There – all done – and it wasn’t so bad!