Prepare your child for the first dental visit
Getting ready to take you child to the dentist for the first time can be a nerve racking experience. It is hard to know what to expect or what reaction you will get out of your child. Luckily for you, in this article we are going to help you prepare your child for their first dental visit.
Children often love to eat sweets and candy that can damage the teeth. Therefore, we as the parents, must take proper care and precautionary measures to make sure the children’s teeth stay intact and remain healthy.
Did you know that you should be brushing your child’s teeth for them until they are at least 8 years old and could write their name in cursive? A child just does not have the dexterity to really brush or floss well by themselves.
It is a parent’s responsibility to help their child with proper oral home care.
You might be wondering when you should you be taking your child to a dentist or when is the right time for your child to see a dentist.
In this article, I will be discussing when to take your child to their first dental visit and will also be help you prepare your child for their first dental visit.
When should a child go to the dentist?
A child should be seen by a dentist by age one. It is preferable that they make it to the dentist within 6 months of the appearance of the first tooth. If your child is older than this go ahead and book an appointment.
As a pediatric dental hygienist, I often see that parents are being told to wait until age 3 to 4. This is not the case! Please do not wait until your child is older to bring them to the dentist.
By the time we see older children in pediatric dentistry, we often see cavities in children that could have been prevented with early dental care.
Even if a child only has one or two teeth sometimes it is a great benefit to the parent to learn about proper oral care for their children.
If a parent gets earlier proper hygiene instructions for their child’s teeth ,it may prevent many dental issues in the future. The earlier the better.
How to prepare a child for their first dental visit?
If you are thinking about how to prepare your child for their first dental visit – then there are some tips that you might consider taking.
- Scheduling a Visit:
Before scheduling a visit, you may want to go through a few dental offices and choose the best one. The environment and the surroundings may help your child get to know about dental care and feel more comfortable.
I believe that a pediatric dental office, specializing in children, will always be the best dental choice for a child. This is because they deal specifically with children and teenagers. You can read more about this in this detailed article on a general dentist vs. a pediatric dentist.
The environment and surroundings of these pediatric dental offices may have a better impact upon your children positively. So when choosing the right dentist for your child, I would choose a pediatric dentist. You could also call the office ahead of time and possible schedule a tour of the office to get your child more comfortable.
- Give your Children books and dental themed TV Shows:
Children have emotional attachments to what they see and what they read. Hence, if you want your children to feel comfortable with a dental office, then the best thing for you to adapt is to give them dental themed TV shows and dental themed children books. This way they can watch and get to know about how it is important to have good dental care and how important it is to visit them regularly.
If you really want to get them excited for their first dental visit you can role play with them with their favorite characters. If they can see their favorite characters role playing through the different dental visit scenarios, they often get excited!
Try laying the character back and pretend to examine the characters’ teeth, count the teeth and brush them. Even better, you may be able to tote their favorite character along to their first dental visit.
If you are looking for a dental themed TV Show and children books check these out-
- The Tooth Book by Dr Seuss
- Dora the Explorer Book: Dora Goes to the Dentist
- Curious George Visits the Dentist Book
- The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan and Jan Berenstain
- Peppa Pig –Dentist Trip Book
- Peppa Pig Dentist Trip TV show
- Bubble Guppies – “A Tooth on the Booth” (TV Show)
These books and tv shows are sure to help your child feel more comfortable at their first dental visit.
- Positivity and keeping a positive attitude will help you:
You might be wondering about how having a positive attitude may help you while preparing your child for their first dental visit. It does because children are quick learners, and they pick up quickly on their surrounding environment.
Children often mimic the same behaviors you might be having while going to a hospital or going to a doctor. When they see you with a negative attitude – they might do the same when you are trying to prepare them for their first dental visit. Try to make sure that your children never adapt to the negative vibe or attitude which may affect them in the coming future.
4.Never mention these words
Be sure to never mention scary or negative words to your child. Do not threaten or tease them with getting a shot. Do not use the words shot, hurt or painful. All of this will cause ill feeling and leave your child scared. You want them to love coming to the dentist and not be fearful.
5. Plan a reward:
Children become easily attracted to rewards. When you say to them that you may buy them something or do something with them if they complete this task, it usually gets them motivated. It could be to take them to the park, let them pick out a new toy or something else they would enjoy. The reward doesn’t have to be big or even cost money but it may make a big difference in the child’s behavior.
This will not only help you keep them excited about their first dental visit, but it will also allow the child to get through the difficulty which they might be facing while their visit to the dentist.
What to expect at your child’s first dental visit
So now that we have you covered how to prepare for your child’s first dental visit. What can you expect at your child’s first dental visit?
At a child’s first dental appointment, the dentist will do an easy but thorough exam. This dental exam will include checking of your child’s teeth, gums, jaw development and overall oral cavity. They will probably tell your child they are counting their teeth. They will then do a cleaning to get rid of any plaque, stains or calculus build up. They may follow with a fluoride treatment to help strengthen the teeth and prevent cavities.
Most dental offices, especially pediatric offices, will have a prize box to give your child a treat when they are finished. This is usually the last and most exciting thing they remember and leaves on a positive vibe.
To sum it all up
Hopefully after these tips on how to prepare your child for their first dental visit, you will have a smooth sailing appointment.
For more great oral care tips, be sure to visit Toothbrush Life.
Kelly Hancock, RDH
Kelly is a registered dental hygienist and oral health care provider. She is passionate about oral hygiene and encourages people to achieve optimal oral health. She has been working in the dental profession for 16 years and worked in many different roles in the dental industry. Kelly is currently a pediatric dental hygienist specializing in children’s dentistry. She is committed to helping others with their oral health care issues and helping others achieve a smile they love.