The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children have their first dental visit no later than their 1st birthday. Early visits allow dentists to make sure that their oral development is on track. Visiting the dentist at a young age also allows children to get comfortable and develop a relationship with their dentist.
We know that the first visit is exciting but can be scary at times. Preparing for your child’s first dental visit is very crucial to ensuring they have a good first impression. That’s why we have devised a list of steps that can help ease your worry and ensure your child has a great first visit.
Get excited !
Studies have shown that children tend to mimic adult behaviors. They are sensitive and perceptive to those around them. So even if you aren’t a fan of the dentist, don’t let it show in front of your child. Remember to always chat about the dentist in a positive way and to avoid using any negative terms. Avoid saying phrases like “don’t be scared” or “it won’t hurt” because sometimes these phrases can have a negative effect and cause first visit anxiety.
Also, using simple terminology can be very helpful. Instead of using big words like “x-rays” or “machines” you can use words like “healthy teeth” or “fun chair”. This allows you to use words that your child is already familiar with and that can help reassure them of what will happen.
Tour the Dentist Office
Another great way to show them what will happen is by taking them on a tour of the dentist office before the initial appointment. This visit allows them to get familiarized with the sights and sounds of the office. This also gives them time to get to know the staff and be able to play in the waiting room so that they have some fun while visiting.
Schedule Appointment Wisely
Scheduling the appointment is very important. We recommend that you schedule the appointment at a time when they’re typically in a good mood. This could be after a nap or after a meal. When kids are hungry or tired, they are more likely to be less cooperative and this could negatively affect their appointment.
Dental Themed Activities
Every child has a favorite character that they love to watch or read about! This is a great tool to use to help your child prepare for the dentist. Research their favorite character and find something that involves them going to the dentist or brushing their teeth. Seeing their favorite character be engaged can help get them excited for their first visit. Here’s a list of videos that we find helpful and entertaining for kids!
Play pretend dentist at home
The best way to prepare for something is to practice! This is why playing pretend dentist at home before visiting the dentist can be a huge help. You can use your child’s toothbrush and have them sit in a chair. You can pretend to brush and count their teeth while explaining why oral hygiene is important.
Then you can switch roles! Have them be the dentist and have their favorite stuffed animal be the patient. This will allow your child to be engaged within the entire experience.
Does your child have a favorite toy or stuffed animal? Then bring it with you! Having their furry friends accompany them during this new experience can help keep them calm and ensure they feel comfortable. Remember, to always bring a back-up buddy just in case one buddy isn’t enough!
Offer a simple reward that can get them excited! Whether it’s ice cream, a trip to the playground or a new toy. Promising to give them a reward for a well-behaved and successful visit will give them motivation to be on their best behavior. They will be more inclined to stay calm and focused because they want to receive their reward at the end.
By using these tips to prepare your child for their first dental visit, you can help them feel confident and excited to tackle this new experience. If it’s time to schedule your child’s first dental visit, schedule an appointment with our Saginaw Pediatric Dentists!