Talk to anybody in the world, and chances are, they’re afraid of the dentist. So your child most likely has the same phobia too.
But it’s inevitable that you have to bring them to the dentist; oral hygiene is vital in your body’s overall health. You may be dreading the unavoidable kicking and screaming, but the truth is, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Here are some great tips to follow to prepare you and your child for their first dental visit.
When Should I Bring My Child to the Dentist?
Most dentists recommend that you bring your child to their first dental appointment at the age of 1, or 6 months after their first tooth grows out. If your child is a bit older than that, don’t worry; it’s never too late to start seeing the dentist.
Generally, the earlier you start, the better it is. That way, your kid can get used to seeing the dentist on a regular basis and build a positive association with the practice early on.
Tips for Your Child’s First Dental Visit
If your child is a baby or toddler, it’ll be easier to prepare for their first dental visit since they’re too young to really know what’s going on. All you have to do is bring them in; although they may initially cry due to the unfamiliarity of the place, your baby or toddler will eventually relax and let the dentist do their job.
If your child is older and is aware of what’s going on around them, here are a few things you can do to make their first dental visit easier.
Introduce Oral Health Care Routines Early On
Before your child is two years old, you should’ve been cleaning their gums with a clean cloth. After they get their first teeth, you can switch to a child’s toothbrush that has soft bristles. You can use toothpaste with fluoride at that point.
As soon as they’re old enough to hold the toothbrush, you should have your kid brush by themselves under supervision. Make a fun activity; brush your teeth together alongside in the bathroom. If you floss, do it while your child’s nearby so they see you practicing good oral hygiene.
Do Practice Exams at Home
It can be a scary thing to have a stranger poke and prod you in the mouth, especially when it’s done in an unfamiliar setting. You can alleviate this intimidating experience by doing some mock exams while at home.
Do a run through of what to expect when going to the dentist. If your child is old enough to understand words, then explain what you’re doing every step of the way. You can either do the following steps on your child’s mouth and teeth or use a stuffed animal or doll as a substitute.
The Steps to Take
First, gently open your kid’s mouth to look at their teeth. Explain that the dentist will do so to count their teeth and make sure they’re happy and healthy. Don’t frame it as the dentist is seeking cavities; use positive instead of negative connotations.
If your kid has any toys that look like dentist tools, use those to demonstrate what the dentist will do at the exam. Don’t refer to any of the procedures as hurting, since it may create unnecessary anxiety over something possibly hurting while they’re at the dentist’s office.
Bring Your Child to Your Dental Appointments
As your child’s hero, you can show them there’s nothing to be afraid of when it comes to dental appointments. For your next visit, bring them along! They’ll see that you have a great relationship with your dentist and that exams are painless.
The most important thing is that you want to demonstrate that the dentist is not a scary person. If you yourself have anxiety surrounding dental visits, then this tip might not be a good one to follow. Children are very observant and can pick up on any negative feelings you may be having at the time.
Choose a Pediatric Dentist Instead of a Generic Dentist
You may have a family dentist you want to bring your child to for their first visit. While they may be friendly and patient, they might not know how to handle children who have anxiety surrounding their first dental visits.
Pediatric dentists specialize in dental care for kids, which means they’ll have lots of experience dealing with children’s first visits. Not only that, but their dental office will be geared towards the interests of kids. This means your child will feel right at home the moment you step through the door.
You also won’t have to worry about the staff members not knowing how to treat your kids. Along with the dentist, they’ve all been trained in how to soothe any unruly children, including those with special needs.
Grab a Morning Appointment if Possible
If you bring your kid into the dental office in the earlier part of the day, there’s a better chance that they’ll be in a brighter, happier mood. After they’ve been up for a few hours, they can become cranky, especially if the appointment is in the later part of the afternoon.
Make Your Child’s First Dental Visit a Good One
By using all the tips we’ve given you above, you can make your child’s first dental visit a positive and stress-free one. But don’t worry if the first visit is disastrous! Know your kid’s limits and try again at a later time.
Always remember to frame oral health care as something good and fun. If your kids see you stressing out about dental appointments and expressing disgust with brushing and flossing, they’ll associate those feelings with dental care as well. As their role model, you can have more influence over your kids’ viewpoints than you think!
Is your child ready for their first dental visit? Then make an appointment with us now!