You’ve made your child’s first dental appointmen, and you’re sweating it. You’ve heard stories about other parents’ first visit to the dentist — they involve screaming and kicking, and you want to ensure your child has a much better time.
Relax. We can assure you most of those stories are exaggerated. Most first-time dental appointments are actually quite pleasant, especially if you properly prepare yourself and your child beforehand, giving them the confidence they need to make it through. Here are a few tips to get you both ready.
Consider a Dentist Who Specializes in Kids
While you may think it’s easier to bring your child to your “family dentist,” going to one who specializes in children may actually be a better fit. Pediatric dentists work exclusively with kids and have seen just about everything, meaning they’ll be ready to deal with behavioral issues or outright fear. They have techniques to help soothe your child, which you will both appreciate. They also did 2-3 extra years of advanced training after dental school, solely focusing on pediatric dentistry. And our pediatric dentist, Dr. Dana Fox, is board certified as well. You can’t get more qualified than that!
Discuss the Appointment With the Dental Staff
Get the lowdown on what the office plans to do during the first appointment before you talk to your child. This will give you specific expectations for what what your child should be prepared to experience. You can also inform the staff of any special circumstances or needs your kid may have.
We love hearing about these things ahead of time so we can make the right arrangements to increase the chances of a successful appointment.
Talk to Your Child About What Happens at a Checkup
Even if your child just celebrated their second birthday, it’s worth talking to them about what a dental appointment entails. Discussing beforehand can help in several ways. It lets them know about the appointment, and they hear you talking about it in a calm voice. Never underestimate the power of your calm to help give your child confidence.
Explain a little about what happens at the appointment. Tell them the dentist will count their teeth and make sure their teeth are healthy. They will meet a dental hygienist, too, who may floss the teeth, and “tickle” their teeth with a special type of toothbrush.
Check Your Own Attitude
If you approach your discussion with fear or display apprehension, your child will pick up on that. Instead, talk about the appointment with a positive attitude — but don’t overdo it. Kids can also tell when you are being a little too over the top and will become suspicious. Avoid “bad words” like “needle,” “shot,” or “pull.”
Have Your Questions for the Dentist Ready
Perhaps your child sucks their thumb or uses a pacifier. You may have concerns about what this means for their developing teeth, or you may have other things you want to discuss. Make a list ahead of time so you hit every topic during that first appointment.
Baby’s First Dentist Appointment
The first dental checkup is an important time in your child’s young life. With the right preparation, it will be a day you look back on with a smile. If you know other parents who might benefit from these first-appointment pointers, spread the word!