This post was written and sponsored by our lovely partners at Affiliated Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics.
Do you or your kiddos get nervous before a dental visit? Here are some tips to help prepare you both for their first dental visit and to help create positive future dental visits.
Rest assured, pediatric dentists are trained to handle children’s fear and anxiety and have office staff that will help ease your child during their dental visits. Most pediatric dental offices are designed to provide a friendly and comfortable environment for children.
- Stay positive – The first step in preparation for your child’s visit to the dental office is promoting a positive attitude towards oral hygiene at home. Explain to your child how important it is to keep their teeth and gums healthy and the doctor is going to help them with that. Many parents are afraid of the dentist themselves due to past experiences, so be sure not to relay any of those fears to your children.
- Role Modeling – If your child has an older sibling who has been coming to the dentist, it is a good idea to bring the younger child to watch while their older brother or sister getting his/her teeth cleaned – kids do well when they have good role models.
- Read or Watch TV – Read books about brushing teeth or going to the dentist to prepare for their visits. (Example: Dora: Show Me Your Smile, The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist) or watch a favorite show where the characters go to the dentist (Example: Peppa Pig Goes to the Dentist).
- Sing – Sing songs as you are brushing their teeth at home and then help sing along as their teeth are being cleaned in the office. (YouTube has some great brushing songs or consider the Disney brushing app).
- Count – Make a game at home with counting teeth to prepare them for the dentist and hygienist who will count their teeth. You can practice counting their teeth in the mirror, have them count your teeth, or have them count their stuffed animal’s or doll’s teeth.
- Positive reinforcement – Plan something special (a little treat) or have a toy for them if they do well with their visit (most pediatric dental offices have prizes for their patients after their visit).
- Comfort – You can have your child bring their favorite stuffed animal or toy with them for additional comfort.
- Familiarize – Look at pictures of the doctor they will be seeing on the practice website and get them familiar with their name or take an office tour online to get them excited. You can also start using friendly dental terminology before the visit to get them excited about new instruments they may encounter at their visit. Here are some examples:
- Plaque = sugar bugs (explain the dentist is going to clean the sugar bugs off their teeth)
- Polishing toothbrush = tickle toothbrush
- Suction = Mr. Thirsty
- Explorer = tooth counter
- Fluoride = tooth vitamins
What you can expect at your first dental visit:
- For babies and toddlers, we use a lap exam position to clean and examine your child. The parent sits knee to knee with the doctor and the child begins facing the parent with one leg on either side of them. The child is then slowly lowered back onto the lap of the doctor and the cleaning and exam can be done with ease and comfort. This technique is encouraged for home use in order to allow your child to gain familiarity with the process as well as allow for easy access to brushing.
- Your child’s initial lap exam may be unfamiliar and cause some reluctant behavior in the office, but with positive reinforcement at home with lap exams and continuous visits, the dentist will grow their relationship with your child.
- Depending on the child’s age and behavior, the first visit may entail oral hygiene instructions, diet recommendations, toothbrush cleaning, and a fluoride treatment.
- Be prepared to help – you may need to help hold your child’s hands or sing their favorite song.
- If you have multiple young children, it is helpful to bring an extra set of hands (dad, grandma, nanny) so your child can have your undivided attention when it is time for their visit.
For more information or to schedule a dental exam for your child(ren), please visit Affiliated Pediatric Dentist and Orthodontics on their website. And you can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.