A child’s first dentist visit can be daunting to them. They’ve never been before, so they don’t know what to expect. The fear of the unknown can cause anyone to have anxiety.
When a child is unsure of what to expect while at the dentist, it not only causes anxiety for the child but for the parent as well. To ensure the child’s first visit to the dentist goes smoothly, there are a few things parents can do. In the guide below, you’ll learn a few ways to do just that!
When should a child first visit the dentist? What time of the day should you schedule their appointment? How can you ensure you’ve chosen the best dentist for them?
Continue reading below to find out all the answers!
Start Brushing When They’re Little
You should begin brushing your child’s teeth when they’re an infant. There are infant toothbrushes available that fit onto your pointer finger. It comes with soft bristles that gently scrub your infant’s gums clean.
Once your child’s teeth begin to grow, you should then schedule their first dentist appointment. This is normally around the age of one. You can then speak with the dentist about the best toothbrush and toothpaste to use on your little one’s teeth.
Bringing them into the dentist at such an early age will also help reduce their anxiety about the dentist as they get older. The earlier you start brushing their teeth and bringing them to the dentist, the less chance of there being a problem.
Make It a Positive Event
If a child sees their parent feeling or acting nervous and anxious, then they can pick up on those emotions and mimic them. To prevent your child from feeling this way, try to make visiting the dentist a positive event. Speak about it using positive words and get excited about it.
When your child sees you getting excited, they will too! You can explain to them about sitting in the big kid’s chair and having neat tools clean their teeth for them.
Read a Book About the Dentist
Helping your child understand what happens during a dentist visit helps ease their anxiety. A good way to prepare them for what will take place during the first visit is to read them a book about the dentist. There are many children’s books written to help them understand what dentists do and why they’re so important.
Pick out a few different books and read to them each night. You might even find a few books about their favorite TV show characters visiting the dentist for their first time too.
Plan to Tour the Office
Have you considered scheduling a tour of the office? Be sure to contact your child’s pediatric dentist and ask about coming in to do a tour with your child before their first appointment. If you have the opportunity to meet with the dentist and the staff with your child before their appointment, then your child might feel more comfortable.
Take a look around the office. Show your child all the awesome equipment the dentist will use to help keep their teeth healthy. You can also use this time to get to know the dentist and the staff as well.
Schedule the Appointment for the Best Time
It’s also a great idea to schedule the appointment at a time that works best for your little one. Some things to consider are nap time, lunch and dinner time, and more. When does your child tend to become cranky?
Make sure not to schedule their appointment during this time. If after their nap or after lunch are their happiest times, then these might be the best time to bring them in. They’ll be in a great mood and ready to meet the dentist!
Let Them Bring a Comfort Item
Allowing your child to bring a comfort item with them can help them feel more at ease. Think about a favorite stuffed toy, blanket, or other item of your child’s. Do they use this item to help them feel comforted during other situations?
If so, be sure to bring it with you to the dentist. Your child might not know they want it until they’re there, so be sure to pack the item yourself. You should consider bringing a backup comfort item with you also.
Treat Them With a Reward
A child’s first visit to the dentist is sometimes a lot for them to process. Everything is new. Make sure to treat your child with a reward after doing such a great job.
Their pediatric dentist will offer them a goodie bag after their appointment. These bags are usually filled with fun toothbrushes, stickers, and other fun items to promote healthy teeth.
Choose a Pediatric Dentist
One of the last steps to take to ensure your child is as comfortable as possible during their first visit is to choose a pediatric dentist for them. Why choose a pediatric dentist over a regular dentist?
Pediatric dentists have specific training in working with children. This is essential. Pediatric dentists will know how to help make your child feel at ease and different techniques to make the visit fun for them!
Is Your Child Ready for Their First Dentist Visit?
Are you planning your child’s first dentist visit? If so, be sure to remember the helpful advice listed in this guide. Using these tips to reduce anxiety will ensure your child has a wonderful experience.
Ready to schedule their first appointment?
At Dallas Children’s Dental Network, all pediatric dentists and orthodontists are there to help ease your child’s anxiety while providing excellent care.
Click here to find an office near you today!