Having a child lets parents experience so many things for the first time again! Think about your little one’s first smile, first word, first tooth, first day out, first school day! Growing up is full of “firsts” that leave long-lasting memories in the consciousness of our babies. However, although most of these first times will bring a smile to our face, some may not be so well received by our children. There are a number of experiences that seem stressful or even horrific to our kids.
For example, the first time at the doctor or at the dentist may not be a pleasant memory for your child. The good news is that we, as parents, have the power to change this frightening visit into a wonderful and pleasant trip in our children’s minds.
As with anything else, the presentation is key! There are a set of tactics and tips for preparing your child for their first dentist visit that we will observe below. Before starting, it’s essential to shed some light on when the first dentist visit should take place.
Taking Your Little One to the Dentist
Taking your child to the dentist for the first time may be a scary move not only for them but for you as a parent. Even if you do everything in your power to keep your baby’s teeth clean and fresh using supplies such as the Baby Teething Toothbrush, chances are that sooner or later they will need to visit the dentist, at least for a check-up.
In order to reduce the worry, it is advisable for parents to carefully research the chosen dental professional and read reviews left from other clients. For example, check if the dentist has specialized in pediatric dentistry and has experienced working with kids. As professional as a dentist may be, children often require a specific approach in order to make them feel safe and happy with the visit.
When should the first dental visit take place?
A number of parents are quite ambiguous when it comes to a child’s first dental visit. Uncertainty is usually centered on the question “is it too early?” Experts reveal that – no, it is never too early to find your pediatric dentist and start arranging regular checkups with the little one.
According to specialized dentists, as soon as your child’s first tooth comes out it is okay to start considering a dental visit. Of course, at such a young age, it is likely that no procedures will be required but having a regular check-up is a great way of making sure that your baby’s teeth get a healthy start in their growth.
Dental check-ups at the age of one or two are also great for examining the strength of your child’s gums and prevent the chances of oral cavity, jaw and soft palate. It is also beneficial as the professional may be able to suggest a healthy diet, which will stimulate the normal growth of teeth or prevent potential diseases or threats to the teeth. At this age, your pediatric dentist is more of an experienced dental consultant for keeping your baby’s teeth safe.
Now that we have looked at the reasons for taking your baby to the dentist even at a young age, let’s see how to make the process a welcoming and comfortable one. The visits to the dentist are one of the most frightening experiences for grownups who have more control over their emotions. Sitting back in a chair with a stranger poking your teeth and using loud machines to perform different tasks in our mouth – not the most enjoyable of experiences, right?
There is, however, a lot that you can do to make your child feel less worried about going to the dentist and turn it into a fun activity.
Preparing Your Child for Their First Dentist Visit
The most important thing to remember is that children often sense the emotions going on around them. In relation to this, it is essential that you remain calm and develop a naturally positive attitude towards going to the dentist.
Worrying about the child’s first dentist appointment is something that most of us go through as heading towards the door to leave the house we can almost feel the baby’s cry in a few minutes and forecast all the negativity that may arise. However, try to keep calm and follow these few tips on making your little one feel relaxed about the dentist.
1. Talking is Key
First things first, make sure you have openly spoken about the dentist with your child. Even if they are still at an age where communication is one-way, sit down with your baby a week or two before the appointment and tell them about the new experience they will go through. You can try making up entertaining stories that will grab the child’s attention related to visits to the dentist.
Remember to finish the story with a good ending, where everyone leaves the dentist feeling happy and fresh.
Finding children’s books where dental doctors are included will also be of benefit as they will depict the professionals as warm and friendly people, with nice, fresh, and white smiles. Although the baby may not be able to fully comprehend the story, the images will enter the subconscious of the kid and once at a similar scene in real life, they are likely to respond better to the situation as it will seem familiar.
2. Show Your Positivity
You can gradually develop a positive attitude towards your dentist by setting an example. For instance, choose a day to go to the dentist yourself for a regular check-up and take your child with you. On the way out, make sure to show your positivity and even use tactics such as saying “I can’t wait to go to the dentist today, it’s great fun!”
Remember, your child hasn’t yet had any painful experiences and their mentality towards the dental clinic and the dental professionals will be a reflection of what they have seen or heard.
After having your check-up, share with your child how beneficial it was for you and explain how you feel much better and your teeth are fresher, whiter, and you are more confident and healthy. You could also have a conversation with other family members or friends while making sure that your child is there to listen.
Careful, as little ones easily spot when someone is trying to manipulate a situation. Try to make the conversation as natural as possible and make it seem as if the information is not regarding your child.
3. Prepare a Test Visit
From the example above we saw that it’s a good idea to take your child to the dentist for your appointment just to make them feel more comfortable with the atmosphere and gain an understanding that the dental clinic is not so scary, after all.
However, you could arrange a completely appointment-free visit to the clinic just to show them where it is, what it looks and feels like, and have them meet their pediatric dentist. If you manage to establish a friendly bond between your child and the dentist they will certainly accept the visits with more joy.
Talk to your specialist regarding these meetings and try to arrange a few visits where you drop by to say “Hi” and have your child receive sweets or fun, colorful stickers from the clinic. This will make them feel like this is a safe and enjoyable place that they would like to return to. A mindset like this will make it easier to take your baby to the dentist when there is a need to, in cases of tooth cavity or other conditions that will require special treatment.
4. Arrange Fun Games
You could try spicing things up by creating a fun game, related to visiting the dentist. For example, on the way there, you could set a challenge between you and your child on who will count the more red or green traffic lights during the drive. Let your child win and when you get to the dental clinic, have your dentist greet the little one with a lollipop or other treat for their success.
Of course, in this case, you would need to prearrange everything with the dental specialist and kindly ask them to take part in the game by giving the treat.
Another great tactic is to take the child for a treat after the visit, if appropriate. In cases of specific treatments, you might need to wait a few hours before the child can eat or drink again. However, when you are visiting for a standard check-up, offer to take your little one to get some ice cream or take them to their favorite animated movie. Spending the day together after the visit will surely help relieve any possible stress and associate the visit with a nice end.
5. Be Patient
This is probably one of the most important points in our list of ways to prepare your little one for a visit to the dentist. Don’t force the visit on your child and certainly try to avoid making them feel as if this is something that they must abide despite their will. This will only make the situation worse and bring feelings of negativity and maybe even aggression.
Even if your little one is stubbornly refusing to go, try alternative methods of making them feel better about the experience and getting to their minds to assure them that everything will be alright.
Try not to lose your temper as this will immediately be felt by the child. Starting the conversations and preparation early on will bring better results and will give you the time to try out different tactics to make them feel more comfortable.
It is also advisory to try staying away from the last-minute call of “We’re going to the dentist”. Not speaking to your child about the visit means that you have no idea whether they already know about the dental clinic or they are just hearing the term now. If they are familiar with the concept, it may be the case that they have heard it from a TV show or other surroundings and their attitude towards the dentist may not be so positive.
The first visit to the dentist can truly be a fun journey but only if you have prepared your little one for the experience beforehand. They will thank you later when the dentist is a must and they are no longer scared but rather trust the specialist and enjoy getting stronger and healthier teeth.