Visiting the dentist need not be a traumatic experience as it is often depicted. Children start seeing dentists as early as within the first 6 to twelve months after the first tooth appears. Your child’s first dental visit is to help your child feel comfortable with the dentist. Depending on your child’s age, the visit may include a full exam of the teeth, jaws, bite, gums, and oral tissues to check growth and development. You need to prepare your child for their first visit to the dentist by preparing yourself as well. Many factors should be considered beforehand and during the dentist visit. Here is how to prepare your child for their trip to the dentist.
Schedule Visits Wisely
Try to book their appointment at a time that suits the kiddos best, when your child is usually at their happiest and most attentive. Most children are alert and fresh during the mornings. Early afternoons are great, especially for the older kids too, usually after a nap and a meal works well. When kids are hungry or tired, they tend to be less tolerant of new situations and not cooperative. Try to avoid later appointments at the first visit to keep tantrums and tears at bay as often children will be tired.
Bring Along a Favourite Cuddly Toy
A familiar, beloved friend will help them feel safe and secure. You can incorporate a dental check-up for the toy and help younger children understand what will happen at their appointment. Play games like pretending you’re the dentist and count and brush their teeth. Talk through what you’re doing and why oral hygiene is so important.
Gently Prepare Your Child
It is recommended that parents not tell their child about the appointment too early in advance; it might cause plenty of anxiety. It’s not a great idea to completely surprise them either and show up at the dentist without warning. Tell your child about their first dental visit on the same day as the appointment. Offer plenty of positive reinforcement by praising them for conquering their fears and being brave after. Watch videos or read books about going to the dentist; it helps put a positive spin on it.
Prepare Yourself Too
If you have dental anxieties, be careful not to relate those fears or dislikes to your child. Discuss your issues and concerns with your dentist. Remember that children can pick up on their parent’s anxieties and become anxious themselves. Prepare your dentist too, and give them your child’s complete medical history. Tell the dentist about your child’s behavior. Younger children may get upset when taken from their parents for a brief separation to do an exam. Older children, say age four and above, are socially mature enough to separate from parents for a dental procedure.
The First Visit
The First Trip to the Dentist often lasts 30 to 45 minutes. Depending on your child’s age, they may have a gentle cleaning. This cleaning includes polishing teeth and removing any plaque, tartar, and stains. The dentist may show you and your child proper home cleaning such as flossing and advise you on the right way to brush your teeth. The dentist will also give you information on; baby bottle tooth decay, Infant feeding practices, teething, pacifier habits, and finger-sucking habits, among more.
Before taking a Trip to the Dentist, you should protect your children’s teeth by brushing with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a tiny amount of toothpaste. Teach them brushing patterns to ensure they don’t miss any spots. Don’t give children a bottle of milk, juice, or sweetened liquid at bedtime. You should also limit the time the baby has with the bottle. Offer fruit rather than juice. The fiber in fruit tends to scrape the teeth clean. Juice exposes the teeth to sugar. It will also help make future visits to the dentist much more comfortable.