Having healthy teeth is so important, both for children and for adults. Kids are every bit as prone to oral health issues as adults, so early dental check-ups are crucial. It’s suggested that as soon as your child has two teeth beside each other, it’s time to schedule their first visit to the dentist.
Going to the dentist for the first time can be an intimidating process, but if you do some groundwork you’ll stand a much greater chance of success. You want the first time your child sees the dentist to go smoothly so they form a positive association. Even though it can be scary for kids (or even adults) to be in a clinical environment with a stranger poking around your mouth, by following our helpful tips, your child will understand the importance of these visits and what to expect.
1) Find A Pediatric Dentist
Pediatric dentists have kid-friendly setups that will make your child feel right at home. They can play in a waiting room that’s stocked with children’s books, toys, video games, and whimsical decor. The dentist’s room is tailored to children, with smaller patient chairs, dental instruments and children’s programming playing on TV. This can make all the difference in how comfortable your child feels in the chair.
Non-pediatric clinics may accept child patients, but they can be more intimidating. Seeing few, if any, other children around can make a child feel out of place. Pediatric clinics are more comforting to children by design. It’s important that your child’s first experience at the dentist be a positive one, so their initial impression is everything. Locating a reputable pediatric dental clinic is one of the most impactful steps you can take towards ensuring your child’s first dentist appointment is a success.
2) Pick A Good Time
Parents know there are “good” times of the day, and times when kids are less open to trying something new. Naptime, meal times, or when they have a recreational activity all come to mind. When booking your child’s first dentist appointment, make sure they won’t be dragged away from their routine. Your child will be more enthusiastic about their appointment if they’re not missing lunch or their after-school soccer game to go to it.
3) Talk To Your Child
Have a kid-friendly conversation about what will happen at the dentist before you get to the appointment. Let your child know that a dentist is someone who makes sure our teeth are clean and healthy – they’re on our side! Using positive, kid-friendly language around teeth can help them make the connection between teeth and overall health.
You can watch TV shows, read books and sing songs about going to the dentist to raise morale. The more you familiarize your child with the terms and concepts of dentistry, the less nervous they’ll be during their appointment.
4) Have Good Practices At Home
Once your child’s first tooth erupts, it’s a good idea to establish a preliminary dental hygiene routine. Brushing the single tooth and gums with a wet, soft-bristled toothbrush can help dislodge food, debris, and sugars; keeping your child’s mouth nice and healthy. If there are two teeth side by side, show your child how to floss using proper technique.
With a good home dental routine established, your child will already be well on their way to a healthy mouth. When they sit in the dentist’s chair, their dentist will surely notice the hard work they’ve put in. This will shorten the length of the cleaning and your child will be happy to receive positive feedback.
5) Extra Comfort
If your child is a toddler, or if they’re nervous about the dentist, they can sit on your lap during the appointment. This will reassure them that you’re there for them and keep them calm while the dentist does their job. Afterward, the dentist can give your child a reward in the form of a toy, or a kid-tailored care bag.
It’s important to get the first time right when it comes to going to the dentist. Your child’s oral health will impact their comfort, appearance, and confidence. Even though your child may still have baby teeth, the care they receive early on will have a significant impact on how their adult teeth come in. Helping establish a positive relationship between your child and their dentist is one of the best gifts you can give them as a parent.
Following these five steps for a successful first appointment will help them feel relaxed and confident. It will encourage your child to develop good self-care habits and reduce anxiety around seeing the dentist. Give them a try and see what happens!
Treehouse Dental provides kid-friendly dental services in Toronto, Thornhill and Etobicoke. Give us a call at (416) 922-2668 or visit our contact page here for more information or to set up an appointment.