Preparing Your Little One For Their First Dental Appointment
Most children meet dental visits with fear and anxiety, but there are many things we can do as parents to help make our child’s first visit a pleasant experience for them. With adequate preparation, kids will less likely be scared, anxious or agitated about their first dental appointment.
Maintaining oral hygiene. Even before your child’s first visit to the dentist, start the habit of keeping his or her mouth clean using a hygienic washcloth and running this gently over gums. Do this even if baby teeth have not yet appeared. Once their baby teeth break out, you can then use an infant toothbrush with a dot of baby-safe toothpaste to cleanse any emerging teeth.
You may also use your clean finger with a spot of toothpaste instead of a baby toothbrush as well. It is recommended that your child is taken to the dentist, preferably a pediatric dentist before his or her first birthday. The earlier the visit, the better the chances you have of delaying and preventing any tooth problems.
Cheery talk about teeth. Keep a happy and cheery conversation about teeth and gums with your child. Respond to your child’s questions positively and always make sure you do not use scary words. Be on alert of scary stories about dentists from your child’s playmates or siblings so that you can instantly reassure your child that this is not so. After all, a first visit to the dentist, as long as it's done at a time where your child does not have any pains and aches, does not have to be associated with a “hurt.”
If you can find a good story about a child that had a pleasant visit to the dentist, read this to your child in an animated and lively way.
Set a good example. Share as much knowledge and help your child understand the importance of keeping teeth healthy by setting a good example yourself. Our children learn from what they see us do. Brush and floss together, let your child count your teeth, and smile into the mirror together. If they see you taking care of your own teeth, then it will be easy to explain to them they should take care of their own teeth as well. Show him or her some child-appropriate illustrations (cartoons will greatly help) that show how in-between teeth spaces or between tooth and gums can be lodged with food particles after eating and these can be the start of tooth decay.
Role play at home. Role playing in the house with your child and his or her toys is a fun way to prepare for the first visit to the dentist. You can start by being the dentist and the toys as the patient and your little one as the “parent” of the toy.
Use toothbrushes, flashlights, and small cups as props. Afterwards shift roles. You can be the patient and your child as the dentist, or the stuffed toy as the patient, your child the dentist and you as the chaperone. After the role play, try to visit the dentist before the appointment and let your child become comfortable with the clinic’s waiting room where you can show him or her some toys and games. This will greatly put her at ease on the scheduled visit since the place is now familiar to her.
After a child's visit in our office, they get to check out our treasure chest that's filled with tons of different prizes!
A Family Dental Care Center 2030 W. Main. St. Jeffersonville, PA 19403