Your child is coming up on their first birthday soon, a huge milestone. One whole year living independently, learning how to walk, how to eat solid foods, maybe even saying their first word. Another big change around the first year mark? Their first dentist visit. Are you prepared already?
Of course, a pediatric dentist is preferable for a very young child. A pediatric dental office is experienced in handling the unique needs and emotions of young children. Many adult or family practices won’t accept certain age groups. Make sure you find a reputable kids dentist in your area. Your pediatrician can likely give you a referral if you need it.
Second of all, make sure your dentist accepts your insurance. They’ll likely ask you what insurance you have and verify it on your very first phone call to schedule an appointment. If you don’t have insurance, some practices will still accept you, but be prepared to pay out of pocket. A typical child’s basic dental exam can cost around $60, depending on the zip code and individual office.
Ask the pediatric dentist office’s receptionist what kind of paperwork and materials you’ll need to bring in. Some offices want things like your state or government ID, your child’s birth certificate and/or social security card, and other identifying materials. If you have insurance, your insurance card or other proof may be required. They may want some general health records from your child’s pediatrician.
On the first visit, you’ll typically need to fill out some basic health forms concerning your child. Some offices allow you to print out and fill out these forms ahead of time so they’re ready to go as soon as you walk into the office, so ask if that is an option.
Kids respond best to new situations when their parents treat it like ‘no big deal’. It’s natural for a young child to feel some anxiety or apprehension when going to a first dental appointment. The dentist can even be scary for adults! After you schedule an appointment, tell your child what will happen in simple, un-scary terms. Encourage them to look forward to the appointment, but try not to ‘hype it up’ too much, as that can accidentally encourage a higher anxiety level.
Remember that this first appointment should be simple and quick. Typically the child will have a chance to be introduced to their new dentist and chat with them, to build a comfortable relationship. The first pediatric dental exam will be a quick look to make sure no obvious defects, cavities, or other issues are visible. Even if you schedule an appointment as a follow-up, know that you can always cancel it, reconsider, and shop around for another dentist office if the current one makes you or your child unnecessarily uncomfortable.