You’ve experienced your child’s first smile, first laugh, first steps, first haircut, and more. Now it’s time to reach another milestone – their first trip to the dentist. Taking your child to the dentist is necessary to promote good dental hygiene, prevent and treat cavities, and provide them the best education on proper dental care. Unfortunately, this event can sometimes be a dreaded and unpleasant experience, both for the child and parent. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are ten tips to help avoid getting a migraine-inducing meltdown at the dentist.
It is important to first manage the phobia that children have at that age as that alone is enough to send shivers down their spine and that alone is enough to make them go crazy which is why they start howling while going for a General dentist routine checkup
Kid’s Dentist Visit Tip #1: Find a Reputable Pediatric Dentist
I highly recommend finding a dentist the specifically treats children. It is wise to find one that only treats children, if possible. He/she may have more patience, experience, and kid-friendly skills to handle children. In addition, the office will seem a little more welcoming to the child. The waiting room for my child’s dentist is basically a fun playroom. Also, while he waited for his first appointment (in the chair) he enjoyed playing a video game made for two year olds. For recommendations on the best dentist, you might ask your pediatrician. Another great idea is to talk with friends and other local moms. If you are new to your area , you could look on websites such as www.cafemom.com. (Join a message board for your town/city and ask for advice.) You might also try www.mamasource.com.
Take all advice with a grain of salt, but if you hear something negative, I would try to avoid the dentist. There are no pediatric dentists in my town, so we travel to the nearest city about 45 minutes away. I heard from several moms that one of the dentists just wasn’t very amicable with children – and strangely, when I had called previously, they had an appointment open the very next day! I ended up scheduling with another dentist, whom I had heard positive things about, even though it took over four months to get in.
Kid’s Dentist Visit Tip #2: Choose the Day and Time of the Appointment Wisely
It is best not to schedule the appointment on a day when nothing else has been scheduled. For example, if he/she goes to a mother’s day out program twice a week, do not schedule it right after. You never know if he/she might have a bad day at preschool and a first trip to the dentist could become a catastrophe. Also, avoid scheduling during nap time when your tot could be a little crankier than usual. In addition, it is probably not best to have it at 8:00 am. This is for your sake to give you a little extra time to leave, and you won’t be very rushed to the appointment. However, I do highly recommend morning appointments from 8:45- 10:30 as children usually more energized at this time.
Kid’s Dentist Visit Tip #3: Talk About the Experience Positively
Talk about the upcoming experience with your child. You might say “You’re a big boy now, we’re going to go the dentist soon! He/she will check your smile!” It is a good idea to add, “I will be sitting there right next to you.” Talk positively about your past experiences saying “I liked to going to the dentist when I was a kid, it was fun!” (Okay, if you really didn’t you probably shouldn’t lie but don’t talk about how much you hated it.)
Kid’s Dentist Visit Tip #4: Read Dentist-Themed Stories
Stories are a fantastic way to help teach your child and prepare him/her for new experiences. Some books to try are A Visit to the Dentist by Eleanor Fremont and The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain. Your local library should have several books about dentist visits to choose from.
Kid’s Dentist Visit Tip #5: Watch Dentist-Themed Videos
Yet another option is to watch a video that talks about going to the dentist in a fun and entertaining way. One to try is A Trip to the Dentist through Pinatta’s View. (Google it to see where you can purchase a copy.)
Kid’s Dentist Visit Tip #6: Provide Dentist / Teeth Coloring Pages for your Child to Color
Another way to warm up your child to going to the dentist, is to let them color pictures of teeth and trips to the dentist. Simply google “dentist coloring pages” and several coloring options will be listed.
Kid’s Dentist Visit Tip #7: Don’t Delay the Appointment
Some experts advise bringing your child to the dentist by age 1. I personally recommend taking your child to the dentist by at least 2 years of age. The earlier you start making these trips to the dentist, the more accustomed he/she will be to this visits, and possibly the less apprehensive he/she will be for future visits.
Kid’s Dentist Visit Tip #8: Keep Up with your Child’s Dental Hygiene
I know this one is basic common sense, but the article wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include it. It is essential that you brush your child’s teeth regularly from the time the tooth appears on. However, remember, that even if you do everything right your child might still have some cavities. Some children are more prone to them, and strangely, some children who don’t practice good dental hygiene never have cavities.
Kid’s Dentist Visit Tip #9: Don’t Be Nervous
If you are apprehensive about the appointment, don’t be. Try to relax and take it easy. Your child will pck up on your nervousness and it will only make the situation worse. If you are worried that your child will have a cavity, and it would make you look like a bad parent, don’t be. For one thing, it may not be your fault. It would be a poor parental choice to not take your child to the dentist.
Kid’s Dentist Visit Tip #10: Reward Your Child for Good Behavior at the Dentist
Okay, I know this one is a little controversial, but I personally see nothing wrong with rewarding your child for excellent dentist behavior. I know that bribing isn’t always a good decision, but if your child is scared, I think its a great idea to offer some sort of prize for making through this appointment. This is probably best for older children who have never been to the dentist. In some situations you gotta do what you gotta do.
Kid’s Dentist Visit Tip #11:Allow Your Child to Chew Sugarless Gum
Chewing sugarless gum has been proven to prevent cavities. I highly recommend letting your child chew sugarless gum, especially when you are at a point (such as on a picnic) where you can’t brush your teeth. This, of course, is not for toddlers as it does pose a choking hazard.
These are just a few tips to help your prepare your child for his or her first visit to the dentist! Good Luck!