You may have already been bringing your kids to the dentist since they were infants, but they likely won’t remember it. Once they reach preschool, they’ll need their first cleaning which will be their first real appointment. To help them get ready for it, here are some easy ways to prepare your kids for their first dentist appointment.
Prepare Yourself First
You can’t prepare your kids for their first dentist appointment if you don’t prepare yourself first. To find out what you need to know, ask your dentist during your next visit. They will provide you with all of the information you need about your child’s first appointment, including what to expect, the steps of the procedure, and any tips that will help you prepare your kids beforehand.
Prepare Your Dentist
It’s also recommended to provide the dentist with your child’s complete health history prior to their first appointment. The notes should outline any medications your child is taking, as well as any conditions, special needs, behaviours or fears that your child may have. The more the dentist knows, the better. There are a number of things a dentist can do to help manage your child’s behaviour and ease their anxiety before and during their treatment.
Prepare Your Child
Talk to Them About It
Before you visit the dentist, you should take some time to talk to your children about the appointment. Explain to them why it’s important that they go to the dentist and give them a general idea of what to expect. This will allow them to ask you any questions that might be on their mind or that might be causing them some degree of anxiety. Just remember to keep it simple, as too many details could alarm them. Also, don’t forget to talk about the experience and dentist in a positive light by saying things like “the dentist is very funny and nice” and “the dentist is going to count your teeth and make them strong”. If your child thinks that you like and trust the dentist, they will like and trust them too.
Practice Going to the Dentist
Kids love acting things out. So why not pretend to play dentist so they will see there is nothing to be worried about? Your kids are more likely to be comfortable with having their teeth checked if they’ve already had them checked at home.
Take Them with You to Your Treatment
You can help ease your child into their own treatment by taking them to yours. This will allow them to take a fun tour of all the games and toys in the waiting room and get to be more familiar with the setting and staff. Just remember to bring your partner or close relative who can watch over your kid while you have your treatment done.
Plan Something Positive to Do Afterwards
You can get your kids to feel excited about going to the dentist if you have something exciting planned afterwards like going to the movies or getting their favourite treat. Giving your child something to look forward to will help them focus on that activity more than the dental visit. They will also start associating going to the dentist with something fun and positive, which can help nip dental phobia in the bud.
Let Them Take in a Support Toy
Most people’s dental phobia is associated with a loss of control. So give your kids some control back in the dental office by allowing them to bring along a comfort item, like their favourite teddy bear. Having an object close by that makes them feel happy and comforted can help take away any of their fears and tension. It’s also a great way to reduce separation anxiety if you can’t be in the room with them.
The First Visit
The first dental visit often lasts between 30 to 45 minutes depending on your kid’s age. The visit may include a full exam of the teeth, gums and jaw to examine the development of your child’s entire oral cavity. A cleaning may also take place that will include plaque and tartar removal, flossing, and polishing the teeth. In some cases, your dentist may recommend X-rays to ensure the adult teeth will come in properly.
The sooner you prepare and bring your child to the dentist, the better. Studies have shown that children who start seeing a dentist by the age of one tend to establish better oral habits than children who have their first visit later in life. So don’t wait, book your child’s first dental appointment today. Our team at Costello Family Dentistry is here to help make your child’s first dental visit a success. Contact us today and we’ll help you get prepared for their big day.