5 Positive Practices for Your Child’s First Dentist Visit
The thought of your child’s first dental appointment can be scary. Tools and drills are intimidating for toddlers, especially when they are not used to having adults they have never met working inside their mouths. However, your little one’s first visit can be filled with fun instead of fear. To help, we have compiled this list of 5 practices that will make your make your child’s first dental visit a fun experience.
1) Practice Fun, Not Fear
Our children do not inherently know the dentist is scary. They learn to be frightened by the dentist from what we say and the stereotypes presented to them. Frankly, a lot of adults are afraid of the dentist and unwittingly pass this fear along to their children. Parents can preempt fear by speaking of the dentist with fun and positive terms.
We think dentists are great! We believe you can help your children realize they are great too. Talk you your children about how much fun they can have, all the new people they will meet, and use their first dentist visit as a rite of passage. Reward them afterwards with a new toy or trip to the park. Pretty soon they will be begging you to go back to the dentist.
2) Practice Visit at Home
We all love to play games with our children. Leading up to their first dentist visit, demonstrate what the visit will be like by pretending to be your child’s dentist. You can sit them in your lap and let them get used to leaning back with their mouth open. You can even pretend you are examining their teeth by shining a small light in their mouth. By practicing dental care at home, it will not be a shock to your child when your dentist performs the initial exam.
3) Practice by Having a Pre-visit
Before their first exam, schedule a time to tour the office with your child. This will give them the opportunity to meet your dentist and become familiar with the exam room. The fewer surprises for your child’s first dental visit, the better. Also, bring your younger children along with their older siblings to further acclimate them to their dentist’s office. Your child will have the opportunity to learn to trust their dentist’s support staff as well. They may even look forward to seeing them as soon as possible!
4) Practice Preventative Maintenance
Insomuch as you can avoid it, do not wait for a dental emergency to schedule your child’s dental visit. The first visit sets the tone for your child’s overall dental experience, so you want the visit to be as calm and pain free as possible. Generally your toddler’s first visit should be scheduled by age two, but you can schedule earlier if your child seems comfortable with you examining his teeth.
Beginning when your children gets their first teeth, we perform a complementary exam for children of adult patients when they accompany their parents to their cleaning appointment. When the child is ready, we have them sit in the dental chair, sometimes on the lap of their parent, and take them for a ride in the chair. As the child feels more comfortable, we are able to look in their mouth with a dental mirror and the overhead light. Gradually, we add new things and soon they are asking when it is their turn to get their teeth cleaned.
Dentists will likely prefer you stay with your child for the duration of the exam if she is under the age of three, and until he is old enough to feel comfortable in the examination chair by himself. You know how cranky your child can be when he is sleepy, so make sure to schedule your visit for a time your child is typically awake and alert.
5) Practice Visiting a Family Dentist
Consider a dentist who excels in child-specific dentistry. You want to choose a dentist with whom she is comfortable. This may or may not be your dentist, so it is important to pay close attention during your pre-visit to how your dentist interacts with your child. We love seeing children here at Davidian Family and Cosmetic Dentistry. We know how difficult a child’s first dental visit can be, so contact us for more information about how we make sure she will be as comfortable as possible.