Between 6 and 12 months, your baby’s first set of pearly whites will begin to pop up. From that moment on, it’s time to start protecting those little teeth and teaching your children how to do the same. Beginning their oral hygiene journey early is a key part of teaching them how to care for themselves.
One aspect of teaching your children about healthy teeth is to take them to their first dental visit. With this comes a multitude of questions for any parent. How do you choose the right dentist and when do you bring them for that first appointment?
If you’re beginning the dental journey with your little one, it’s time to prepare them for what will be included in their appointment. Let’s look at some specifics on how to engage your toddler with the process of teeth cleaning.
The Right Dentist Choice
The first thing you need to do when introducing your child to the world of dental care is to find the right dentist. You want someone good with children but also good at their job. This dentist may just be the person who guides your child all the way to their orthodontics.
A good way to prepare your child for their first visit is to first find a dentist that you can trust. Ask questions of other parents and read reviews from other patients. Depending on your child’s age you can involve them in this entire process.
Allow your child to see what the dental office looks like in photographs. Let them see pictures of the office and what the interior of a dentist looks like. Give them a chance to feel like they’re making the decision right alongside you.
Start looking for the right pediatric dentist nearby for your little one.
Educate via Book Reading
There are plenty of books out there that demonstrate what happens at the dentist’s office. Reading some of these with your child is an opportunity to begin opening a dialog. The earlier you begin speaking with your child about the dentist the more prepared they will be when you make their first appointment.
Books give children an illustrated look at what they can expect when they walk into the office and sit in the dentist’s chair. It also prepares them for how to act and what the dentist is looking for. They are a way to show your child that the dentist is a visit everybody makes.
Incorporating books into this lesson will give you a moment of bonding with your child as well. What better way to calm down from a busy day than with a great lesson?
Bring Your Child Along
These simple in-the-office visits with your dentist can be a great demonstration of what they can expect. If your little one is the type to sit down quietly, or, if you have a family member who can assist, bring your child to the office for your dentist appointment.
Your dentist can provide a walk-through of what they’re taking care of in your mouth to ease any worries that your child might have. A great way to set an example to your little one on what they can expect from the dentist is to show them first.
This will also allow your child to ask any questions they might have. Having an open dialog with your children at any age prepares them for what they can expect in their own experiences. Down the line, this may even prevent them from having the dental anxiety that many children have.
Take In Forms of Media
Nowadays, much of what children learn is through what they see on screens. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing when it comes to the dentist. There are plenty of videos and television shows that provide children with a look into what is expected in the doctor’s office.
By showing your child these forms of media you not only ease some of the anxiety they may have, but you provide them with a look into how other children behave. You can set an example for how your little one knows how to act within the office walls.
Look for the most informative videos for a child that is right around your age. There are many educational videos out there just waiting to be watched and provide the information you’re looking for.
Account for the Time
Another way to prepare your child for the dentist is to keep the time in mind when you schedule their appointment. Doing this is beneficial for both the doctor as well we your child. Try to aim for a time when your child tends to listen the most.
Many parents make the mistake of choosing a time that is close to nap time and the little one becomes easily agitated. Pick a time that is suitable for when your little one is the most alert for the day.
Observe your child’s behavior and try to coordinate when they will be able to act accordingly to the dentist. Figure out when their listening skills are on. The appointment will run smoother for everyone involved if the dentist does not have to explain the process to someone who is missing their coveted sleep time.
Open a Dialog
Remember, children at a young age are like sponges, they latch onto every word that a parent says. Opening a conversation with your child that prepare them for what to expect when they’re inside the dentist’s office is beneficial conversation. Being open and honest is one of the best ways to connect with your kids.
Take the time to go over what a dentist does and what they’re going to be looking for in your child’s mouth. Explain to your little one what cavities are and where they come from. Allow them to ask their questions and better understand why a dentist appointment is so important.
Dental care and good oral hygiene begin with understanding why they are important aspects of your child’s life. Always speak with your children about what is coming and what they should be expecting. The best way to help them understand why an appointment is happening is to walk them through its importance.
Play Pretend With Them
Playing make-believe is a great way for children to learn. They can delve into their imaginations and grow their expectations when they’re allowed to play. Playing a make-believe game of dentistry can do the same thing for them.
Get down to your child’s level and show them in a child-like way what it is like to go to the dentist. Poke around at their teeth carefully with a toothbrush and simulate what they’re going to be expecting when they sit in the dentist’s chair.
This will give them basic expectations about what the dentist is looking for in their mouth. You may even find that your child mimics these movements with their toys and stuffed animals. It is a great way to reassure them without the anxiety they might feel when walking into the office for the first time.
Speak With Careful Positivity
The way you speak in front of your children is easily remembered by them. When you talk negatively about going to the dentist it is something that they could possibly hold onto. Whenever speaking about the dentist, to prepare your child, speak in the best regard possible.
When you speak negatively about going to the dentist, it is something that your kids remember. When preparing your children to see the dentist for the first time, try to leave your own dental anxieties behind. Give them the best possible mindset when it comes to their own dental visits.
Preparing your child to visit the dentist for the first time should be a positive experience. This experience stems from the way you choose to portray their very first visit and what they should be expecting at said visit.
Take Along a Toy
If your child has a favorite toy or blanket that brings them comfort, have them bring that toy along with them. This comfort item will reassure your child that they are safe in the office. It is a great way to help them relax once they are sitting in the dentist’s chair too.
Many dentists will even allow a moment of play and interaction with those special items that give comfort to your child too. Anything that is going to make your little one’s appointment run smoothly will give both them and your comfort.
Ask the dental staff first if it would be alright if your child takes in their favorite buddy. They may even be able to warn the dentist of any nerves or fears that your child may be experiencing before their appointment even begins.
Provide Constant Reassurance
Some children need a little more comfort than others. This includes sitting with them and telling them over and over that a trip to the dentist is a normal experience. If your child is sensitive, it will be beneficial to talk them through their first dental visit a couple of times. Your child may need you to constantly reassure them that everything will be alright.
Be sure to provide clarity that many children have the same fears. Assure them that keeping healthy teeth and visiting their dentist is something that everyone must do. Ease their fears by bringing up the dentist and talking out any fears they may have leading up to the appointment.
Constant reassurance is something that many children benefit from. It gives them the chance to remember that a trip to the dentist is not as big of a deal or as scary as they might believe. Make sure your child is comfortable first and foremost with little reminders.
Make It an Adventure
When speaking with your child regarding seeing the dentist for the first time, make it seem like something fun. Tell them stories about what the dentist will do in terms they will understand. Breaking down the process for them sounds exciting rather than scary.
many children find ease and comfort when scary moments turn into adventures and games. As the caregiver, you have the joy of being able to turn the dentist into that as well.
Create a game out of going to the dentist and allow that to engage your child in finding fun. When given the guidance of the dentist is a new adventure for them, your child will be ready to take on the dentist’s chair with ease. They won’t have as much fear in seeing a dentist for the very first time.
Stimulate With Games
Children often learn things by being asked questions and expanding their memories. Why not ask your child questions about going to the dentist? Create a game out of asking them where their teeth are and what happens when their teeth get dirty.
Stimulating your child by creating a game out of going to the dentist will provide them with the notion that a dentist is a fun place for them to go to and learn. Positive associations, such as games, give your child something to look forward to during their first appointment.
Get Ready for That First Dental Visit
Your child’s first dental visit is the start of taking care of their teeth for the rest of their lives. Make sure they’re prepared for that first visit by taking all the courses of action necessary to make them comfortable. Dental care and oral hygiene are important aspects of the rest of their lives.
Are you all set to set up your child’s first dental visit? We have more articles where this one comes from. Keep looking around for more on travel, lifestyle, education, and more.