November 17, 2019
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, it’s recommended that you schedule your child’s first dentist appointment by the age of one, or within six months after their first tooth appears. This first visit sets the stage for future appointments and how they will care for their smiles as adults. A good pediatric dentist will provide your child with the tools and knowledge they need to take care of their pearly whites for years to come. If you’re worried about how your child will react during their appointment, you can take certain steps to help prepare them. Here are five tips to ensure that your child has a good first dentist appointment.
Familiarize Them With The Dentist While They’re Young
The earlier you normalize routine oral hygiene and visiting the dentist for your child, the better. This will allow them to understand that their dentist’s office helps them preserve their beautiful smile and is nothing to be scared of. Plus, it gets them to form healthy habits starting from a young age, making it more likely that they’ll maintain them as toddlers, adolescents, and adults.
Try Not to Tell Them Too Many Details
When you’re gearing up to take your child for their big visit, it’s a good idea to let them know what to expect. However, if you include too many details, it could cause your little one to raise more questions and imagine more possible scenarios that could result in anxiety. Even if you’re not necessarily a fan of the dentist yourself, try to keep a positive attitude and don’t overpromise their experience. Building their expectations up too high can result in your child losing trust in their pediatric dentist and you.
Watch What Words You Use While Speaking About the Dentist
As you’re describing what the dentist is like to your child, try to avoid verbs and adjectives that have negative connotations, such as “shot,” “hurt,” “pain,” and so on. Instead, use more fantastical and fun language, such as “your dentist will be looking for sugar fairies hiding in your teeth.” Although this may seem silly, vivid imaginative phrases will make their visit seem significantly less daunting. You can also use positive words such as “clean,” “strong,” and “healthy” to help them understand that visiting the dentist is good for their body and growth.
Plan a Pretend Visit
One great way to prepare your child for their first dental visit is to act out their appointment by playing pretend with them. Count your little one’s teeth, hold up a mirror to let them see their smile, and teach them how to brush their favorite stuffed animal’s teeth to keep them healthy. This will familiarize them with the routine of visiting their pediatric dentist.
Prepare For Some Fussing
Lastly, as a parent, you may feel like burying your head in the sand if your child begins fussing or acting up at their dentist’s office. It’s important to remember that their dentist and the team of professionals are used to working with children, and a little tantrum is a common occurrence. Let them guide you through the process and take some stress off your shoulders.
If you’re concerned about your child’s first dentist appointment, don’t hesitate to contact the pediatric dentist’s office beforehand to see if they can offer any additional tips. Once your little one gets used to the fun and educational environment, they may even get excited about going!
About the Author
Dr. Marty Killeen enjoys caring for children and helping them gain the tools and knowledge they need to lead healthy lives. He focuses on making each of his small patients’ visits to his office as enjoyable and fun as possible, so they don’t have a reason to be scared of the dentist. He completed an advanced pediatric dental specialty residency at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha so he can take the best care of growing smiles. For questions or to schedule your child’s first visit to the dentist, visit Wilderness Station Pediatric Dentistry’s website or call 402-420-8020.
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