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Did you know that The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends taking your children for their first dental checkup by the time they turn 1 year old? While it may seem overzealous to bring your children to the dentist at such a young age, there is a good reason for this recommendation.

Delaying the first all-important dental visit could affect the oral health of your children for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, establishing a healthy habit of seeing the dentist every 6 months from the time the first teeth erupt will help your children develop lasting habits that will affect their oral health as adults. Here are a few ways you can prepare your children for their first dental visit.

Find a Good Pediatric Dentist

While there is no official rule saying you can’t take your toddlers to a family dentist, finding a good pediatric dentist is worth the effort. Pediatric dentists are experienced in dealing with oral issues common to young children, and they know how to make kids feel comfortable and safe during their checkups. If you want your children to have a good experience, finding an experienced pediatric dentist is your best bet.

Tell Your Child What to Expect

Let your children know that a very nice dentist will be looking closely at their teeth, and he or she will put special tools in their mouth. Let them know this process will not hurt. If possible, buy toy dental tools such as dental mirrors and probes to help your children become familiar with them.

Prepare a Reward for Good Behavior

Before heading to the dentist’s office, let your children know that they will be rewarded if they behave well during their appointments. If possible, let them choose their own prizes, such as a new toy, ice cream or a movie night.

As long as you let your children know what to expect and do your best to alleviate their fears while getting them excited for their first dental visit, the experience is more likely to be a positive one.