Once your child starts to develop their first teeth, it’s time to visit the dentist. Like with adults, pediatric dental cleanings are an essential part of preventative oral care. Unfortunately, many parents wait too long to schedule their first dentist appointment.
Preparing your child for their first dental visit is essential to guarantee they have a great first impression. That’s why the dental professionals at Dr. Tosun Dental Clinic have put together this comprehensive guide to help you prepare your child for their first dental appointment.
Find an Amazing Dentist and Schedule a Tour
The first step is finding a dentist for your child. Pediatric Dentists specialize in working with children and managing their behaviors from infancy to adolescence. They are also trained to work with children who have special needs and/or sensory challenges. However, most dentists are experienced in treating children.
Word of mouth and referrals are a great way to find a dentist in your area. Start by asking your friends who they use for their children’s dental needs. You can also conduct an internet search to look at reviews from current clients. Once you narrow down your selections, schedule a tour before the initial appointment to help your child feel comfortable with their surroundings.
Set Clear Expectations
Just like for an adult, kids get anxious about visiting the dentist for the first time. Be honest with them from the start and tell them what they should expect. At their first visit, the dental hygienist and dentist will examine your child’s mouth to make sure everything is growing properly. They will check for dental caries, bite, gums, tongue ties, and any signs of malfunction such as tongue thrusting or bad habits like mouth breathing,thumb sucking etc. They will also educate you about everything you need to know to keep your child’s teeth clean, including:
- What size and type of toothbrush to use
- What toothpaste to use
- Flossing and brushing techniques
- Which foods and drinks to avoid
- Answers to concerns about thumb sucking and pacifiers
Dental Themed Activities
Every kiddo has a favorite character they love to read about or watch. Their favorite characters provide a fun and engaging way to help your child prepare for their first visit to the dentist. Research their favorite character and search for something that includes going to the dentist or brushing their teeth. This could be an episode, story, coloring book, or activity sheet. Seeing their favorite character visiting the dentist will help get them to become excited about their first visit.
You can also play dentist at home. After all, the best way to prepare for something is to practice. Have your child sit in a chair while you or their siblings pretend to brush their teeth and count their teeth. They can even explain why oral health is essential. Then switch roles, and you sit in the chair and let your child play dentist. They can even use their stuffed animals and dolls as dental patients. The point is to keep it fun while you make them feel comfortable. This allows your children to be engaged throughout the entire experience.
Studies indicate parents can pass their dental anxiety and fears on to their children. If you are afraid of the dentist, try your best not to show it in front of your little one. Avoid talking about bad experiences or procedures you might have coming up. Instead, tell them about the fun aspects of their appointment, such as seeing pictures of their teeth, getting to pick out toothpaste flavor, and getting a new toothbrush and sticker at the end of their visit.
Validate Their Feelings
If your child is feeling anxious or frightened about their first dental appointment, let them know it’s natural to have these feelings and that you sometimes have them too. Remind your child they are brave for conquering their fears. If your child cries or acts out during their appointment, remember to stay positive about what went right during their appointment.
If your child has a favorite stuffed animal or toy, let them bring it to their first dental appointment. Stuffed animals, fidget toys, and furry friends, can go a long way in making your child feel safe and comfortable during their visit. The key is to make them feel as safe and secure as they can before their first appointment.
Schedule Your Visit Wisely
This tip is more for parents to ensure their child is at their peak happy time to avoid tantrums and tears during their visit. Ideal times to schedule a dentist appointment might include after a nap or after a meal. When kids are hungry or tired, they tend to be less cooperative or less tolerant of new situations.
Anticipate Follow Up Visits
Once your kiddo has completed your first visit, it’s time to start preparing for their follow-up visits! Discuss the visit with your child and remind them of the positive experience they had at their first visit:
- There were no shots
- It didn’t hurt
- The toothbrush tickled
- The toothpaste tasted great
- You got prizes, stickers, and/or a new toothbrush at the end
Dr. Tosun Dental Clinic
At Dr. Tosun Dental Clinic, our main priority is a safe journey and great dental experience for your children. As we continue to serve our community during these times you can rest assured knowing you are in safe hands. Contact our clinic by phone or by visiting our website to schedule your child’s first dental appointment today.