Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Preparing your Child for their First Trip to the Dentist

Your child’s first visit to the dentist is an important day in their life – the experience will likely set the tone for each dental trip to come. Most dentists recommend you bring your child in by their first birthday. But if your child is a toddler at their first visit, there are some easy ways you can make the trip more fun and less fearful.

The first visit is more about building a friendly bond between your child and the dentist and less about treatment. That’s why it’s especially important to schedule your child’s first appointment before any problems with their teeth or mouth appear. Here are a few things you do can prior to the first visit to help them understand what to expect:

  1. If you haven’t done so yet, help your child practice brushing. This will help them get comfortable having a toothbrush or other cleaning instruments in their mouth.
  2. Stay upbeat and positive about the upcoming appointment. Make sure any anxiety you may have about going to the dentist is not transmitted to your child. It can help to describe the experience as a new adventure – tell them about the big, fancy chair they’ll get to sit in and hint at the little prizes they may receive at the end.
  3. Plan a fun activity for after the appointment; this can be something as simple as a trip to the park, or a stroll through the toy aisle of your neighborhood dollar store. The key is to form pleasant associations with appointment day. 

Once you arrive to the appointment, play a supportive role but allow the dentist to take a friendly, authoritative lead. Your dentist may let you hold your child on your lap if they seem apprehensive. If he or she gets genuinely upset, it’s ok to cut the first visit short. It may be best to wait and try again in a few months.

Bring information about your child’s medical conditions and medications he or she is taking, along with the phone number of your pediatrician. If your child has a sucking habit – thumbs, pacifiers or bottles – make sure you let the dentist know.

A positive, pleasant first visit to the dentist will help ensure your child makes a new friend for life, and forms good habits that will have a huge impact on their health for a lifetime to come.

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