Children experience things for the first time almost daily, it seems. As a parent, being at their side for such exciting firsts is one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling experiences in life. Their first words, first steps, first taste of ice cream—you name it—will be forever ingrained in your memory.
As a parent, it is also one of your foremost goals to make such experiences positive for your child. That includes everything from the good things to the harder moments. After all, new things can be overwhelming and even scary for kids.
A first dental visit is one of those events that could be a bit daunting for a kid, which is why you want to do everything possible to make it a positive experience. Not only does this make it more pleasant for your child at the moment, but it also sets the stage for more positive dental experiences in the future. First impressions matter, especially when kids are young!
Read on for a few key tips and tricks that can help your kid’s first dental visit be a good one!
You don’t have to wait until the day of your child’s dental appointment to start preparing them. Instead, start weeks in advance by reading helpful books, playing dentist-related games, and explaining in child-friendly ways what will happen during the visit.
Some important topics to cover include the outfits the dentist and hygienists may wear (such as masks and gloves), the activity that will take place (such as looking into their mouth, brushing their teeth, and so on), and the environment in which everything will occur (the fun chair that leans back).
Your child will look to you for guidance in unfamiliar situations, so it is important to lead by example. Start early by sharing a positive attitude about the dentist and your own dental visits. By expressing positivity toward your dentist, you can help your child approach their first appointment with the same type of positivity and enthusiasm.
Because your child does not have any negative experiences associated with the dentist yet (and hopefully never will), they have no reason to dread their first visit, especially when you’re acting so confident about it!
Even if your child isn’t at an age where communication is a two-way street, you can still take the time to explain the dentist to them in very simple terms. Make up fun stories that have happy endings. Emphasis the kindness of the dentist and other people they will meet, talk about how the dentist helps people feel better when they don’t feel well, and explain that they will leave the dentist feeling fresh and delighted.
When your child is involved, it can be easy to get caught up in the emotion of the moment. When they’re distressed, you feel distressed. It’s natural to want to protect them from anything even slightly unpleasant. It is important to remember, though, that the big picture of your child’s health is vital.
They may try to refuse to go to their appointment because they are scared of the unknown. At the dental office, they may have a million questions or be very wary of the new, unfamiliar things that are happening around and to them.
In such moments, patience is key. Remember, the dentist and their staff are also doing their best to make your child feel calm and safe. As their parent, being a calming, steady presence can work wonders!
Go to the Right Dentist
Not all dental offices claim to be child friendly. Call ahead to see what their policy is on visits form children. At what age do they start seeing kids? Do they have any recommendations for child-friendly office or offices that specialize in children’s dentistry?
Finding and visiting the right dental office is one of the best things you can do to ensure your child’s first visit to the dentist goes as smoothly as possible!