Dentists say a child’s first dental visit should happen between their first tooth erupting and their first birthday. This can be a stressful time for parents as they want to make sure their child does not get scared. So, how should you prepare for this event so it goes smoothly?
We have put together some of the best steps you can take to ensure your child is comfortable in the dentist’s chair. The process starts long before you even get to the dentist’s office, so prepare early. With these, the whole experience should go off without a hitch.
Be Positive About Dentists
One of the most troubling things about any dental visit is how other people talk about it. People share stories of horrifying dentistry, they talk about how scared they are of the dentist, and they often mention drilling. Children are very perceptive, so you should be careful with how you talk about visits to the dentist when around them.
Ensure your children know the dentist is only there to help them keep their teeth healthy. Talk about good experiences you had with a dentist, especially if they ever helped you avoid problems.
You can help your children see the dentist in a good light. This does not mean they will never need fillings or surgery. It instead means when they do, they will have had many positive visits beforehand to pull experience from.
Play “Dentist” With Your Child
One way you can remove some of the fear with a child is to play “dentist” with them. Lie them back on an inclining chair, pretend to be a dentist, and softly touch their teeth with plastic cutlery.
Children learn a lot about the world around them through play. They emulate adults or engage with their imagination. You can use this opportunity to teach them some of the things they can expect by using more than only your words.
After playtime, explain to them that a dentist visit will be something like what they experienced. They can expect the dentist to touch their teeth, and now they know what it might feel like.
Research Dentists Together
Sit the child next to you and look up pictures of people at dentists online. Of course, you will want to turn safe search on to prevent negative pictures from appearing. This way you can ensure the child only sees things that encourage them.
If you have a family dentist, see if you can get a private chat with them. Introduce your child to the dentist in a context that is not medical. You can then normalize being around the dentist as a person before your child sits in the dentist’s chair.
Look for books on dentists, especially ones meant for small children. They will always show dentists in a positive light. Also, many of them will help your child understand all the strange things they might see in the office.
These tips will help your child imagine dentists in both fictional and real settings. This way, your child will not have too many questions about the items around them once the dentist gets started.
Make Your Child Comfortable
For their first dental visit, you will want your child to know they have safe things around them. Ask the dentist if you can put on some calming music, or their favorite songs, but warn the child that they are not allowed to sing along.
Stay with your child and take a cuddly toy with you. If they have a tough time, give it to them afterward so they can recover faster.
While some people are hesitant to offer “screen time”, consider making an exception to distract the child from any fears they might have. Of course, they cannot have it while in the doctor’s chair.
Schedule the Visit at an Easy Time
A child’s first dentist appointment should occur when they feel the least stressed. Try to book it for after a nap, at a time when they are unlikely to be tired or hungry.
You could even schedule it for straight away after their nursery. If they have difficulties with changing schedules, this might help them ease into the experience.
Stay as Relaxed as You Can
There is every chance you are afraid of the dentist yourself. If this is the case, try to stay calm for the sake of your child. They can pick up on such feelings and it might cause them to become nervous themselves.
Stay positive, and try to congratulate your child on the things they do instead. Tell them “Well done!” when they open their mouth wide or sit still, for example, and tell them how well-behaved they are being.
You should also trust the dentist as they perform their role. They have likely been performing dentistry for many years on people as young as your children. You can expect that they know how to handle a small child who might fidget or act out.
Plan Something Fun Afterwards
Along with your child, decide on something fun to do after they visit the dentist. Their schedule will already face disruption due to the appointment, so make it a special day.
Go shopping, or get something fun to eat. It may seem like a bad idea to get ice cream after the dentist, but there are benefits. For example, your child talking to the dentist about such sugary treats might be a great opportunity to encourage them to brush their teeth too.
Book Your Child’s First Dental Visit
We are sure that with the above advice, you will be able to make sure your child’s first dental visit avoids any sort of hassle. If you need to book such a visit for your children, then we can help run you through the event ahead of time.
All you need to do is talk to us about your needs and we can help get your child in the dentist’s chair. So either give us a call or schedule an appointment today to ensure your child’s teeth are as healthy as they can be.