Tips for Preparing Your Child for Their First Dental Visit
Are you planning to schedule your child’s first dental appointment soon? As a family and children’s dentist in Mission Valley, Cassell Dentistry offers several helpful tips on how to prepare a child for a dental visit. Here are some important ones to keep in mind:
Play Dentist at Home
Grab an extra toothbrush and take turns “brushing” the teeth on your child’s favorite toy(s). If you’re up to it, lay down on the floor with your head in their lap, and allow them to brush and count your own teeth, then switch places, using your own toothbrushes of course!
Read Books About the Dentist
Most libraries have age-appropriate books about children’s dental visits, explaining what to expect and how things will feel. Read through them at bedtime a few nights in a row leading up to their appointment.
Have Your Child Watch You
If you’re due for a regular checkup and cleaning, ask to see if it’s a good time to have your child watch you or a sibling during the appointment. When they see how easy and comfortable it is, they’ll be less intimidated when it’s their turn.
The earlier your child has their first dental checkup, the better. Since cavities can form quickly in baby teeth, it’s best to screen for them regularly and treat them as quickly as possible before things get any worse. The American Dental Association and pediatric specialists recommend that every child have their first checkup no later than age 1 or when their first tooth erupts.
We don’t want your child’s first experience to be something painful or scary like an emergency situation. It’s best to get ahead of possible toothaches and cavities by scheduling checkups as early as possible.
Take Things Easy
Your child’s first dental checkup may seem more like playtime than an in-depth exam. The main thing is to get your child familiar with the environment, team, establish relationships, and experience what the process involves. If they’re receptive to having their teeth counted or “pictures” taken, we can go from there. Early, positive experiences in the dental office are essential when it comes to preventing future dental phobia and anxiety related to oral health services.
Consider Stepping Outside
If you have a slightly older child, you might want to stand just outside the door, out of eyesight. You don’t have to be far away. When kids are on their own, they tend to sit a little more still, open their mouth a little bit better, and even be less resistant to having our dentist or hygienist evaluate or clean their teeth (because there are fewer distractions!)
What NOT to Do
As you prepare your child for a dental visit, you’ll want to prep yourself as well. Most children feed off of their parent’s emotions and nonverbal cues, especially if the parent has had negative dental experiences in the past. Try not to talk negatively about your own dental experiences in front of your child. Kids are always listening, so they will pick up on your stories, even if it’s between dental checkups.
Be sure to avoid words like “pain”, “hurt”, or “shot.” Sentences like “It won’t hurt” can actually have a negative effect on children rather than a positive one. Instead, allow our team to explain things in a fun, child-friendly manner.
If your child is a little fussy or squirmy, try not to pick them up from the dental chair. Sometimes children will see it as the fast way out, and it will take longer for them to learn how to sit still or open their mouths for the dentist. We’ll take things at their pace, even if that means a short and sweet visit to begin with.
Need a Children’s Dentist in Mission Valley?
Cassell Dentistry offers family and children’s dentistry under one roof. We’ll be here for your child’s first dentist appointment and each one after that, as long as you need us. As your dental home, we’ll form lasting relationships with your family and children, making the care process more personalized and relaxed as the years go by. We commit to being there when you need us!
Call our Mission Valley office today to reserve your child’s first dentist appointment.