Going to the dentist may not be the most enjoyable thing to do, but it’s important, especially for young children. As a parent, you want your child’s first dental appointment to be smooth, and the only way to ensure that happens is to prepare for it ahead of time. When planning your child’s first trip to the dentist, here are the do’s and don’ts you should follow.
Do: Go early.
Most parents wait too long to bring their child to the dentist, and this is when the chaos and stress can ensue. However, if you take your child to the dentist at an early age, you may be able to forgo some of the stress because it will just be another experience to your toddler. For instance, the American Dental Association states that children should first see the dentist around their first birthday. This is not only beneficial for their oral health, but it also helps them become more accustomed to the dentist, which alleviates tantrums down the road.
Don’t: Blindly choose a dentist.
When choosing a dentist for your child, it’s very important you do your research. Not all dentists are the same, and some are better at handling young children than others. Before you schedule an appointment, it’s a good idea to talk with people in your area to see who they would recommend. Having this referral can ensure you are choosing someone who will work with your child and who will properly care for them.
Do: Talk with your child about it ahead of time.
Going to a new place like the dentist can be scary for a child, so it’s a good idea to talk with them about the experience ahead of time. For instance, explain to them what a dentist is and why they need to go to one. You should also explain what will happen at their visit and how they’ll need to behave. When your child has a better understanding of what to expect, it can make the dentist seem less scary to your child.
Don’t: Go during nap time.
When scheduling your child’s appointment, you’ll want to ensure they’re in a decent mood. This means you do not want to schedule their appointment when your child would be napping. In these instances, children will become cranky, and it will make their first dental appointment hard. Instead, try to schedule the appointment for early in the morning or in the afternoon when your child is most awake. According to Dr. Stanton in Fort Lauderdale, “Children should visit the dentist at a prime time to make it easier on them and the dentist. Having a child who is awake and well-fed will result in a more satisfying experience.”
Do: Practice good oral care.
Practicing good oral care with your child before his or her first dental visit can also make the appointment easier. For instance, if your child is used to brushing his/her teeth, then it will not be so scary to have the dentist do it. Whether you help your child brush his/her teeth or you let them do it on their own, it’s a good idea to start early so you can avoid any meltdowns while at the dentist.
Don’t: Ignore comfort items.
Most children have something that comforts them, and you’ll want to remember this when you visit the dentist. Whether your child has a favorite stuffed animal, a blanket, or another favorite toy they cannot live without, you’ll want to bring this with to help comfort your child. In addition, you may want to bring some headphones and play some music your child likes. This will not only help to calm them down, but it could reduce the amount of noises they hear from the dentist that could be causing them to get scared.
Do: Answer questions.
If your child is curious about the dentist after you’ve talked about it, be sure to answer their questions. In fact, some people suggest taking your child along for your own dental visit first so they can see what goes on. If they see you go through with a dental appointment without crying or getting scared, then it will reassure them.
Don’t: Ignore the dentist.
Once you’re at the dentist’s office, they should be in control. Obviously you want your child to be safe and happy, but it’s also important for your dentist to be responsible for cleaning your child’s teeth. Don’t try to intervene during the cleaning and just let it happen. If you aren’t so nervous around the dentist, then your child won’t be either.
Going to a first dental appointment doesn’t have to be so scary. If you follow these do’s and don’ts, you’ll have an easier time making it all work out.