What to Expect From your Child's First Dental Visit
Is your child nervous about their first visit to the dentist? Are you? Worry no more. Keeping your little one in good spirits the day of their first examination shouldn’t ever be filled with angst. In fact, their first visit is likely to be completely uneventful! We’ll help you prepare for what to expect so your children feel great about hopping in the car with you that day – and are willing to do so for each of the next ones after that.
Talk It Out
Acquainting your child with what happens at the dentist can be as simple as talking with them about what the dentist does as the weeks and days before their visit shorten. Talking with your child about “the people who take care of our teeth” as helpers, and describing the visit as a fun experience (which it really is for kids), your children will be relaxed and without fear – and rightfully so.
First visits are more about developing a rapport between child and dentist, and sometimes involve nothing more than a non-invasive examination of a child’s mouth. Sometimes X-rays may be taken, and a gentle cleaning administered, but many dentists delay these steps until after the initial meeting. If you keep in mind that fear often arises because of a transference of anxiety from parent to child, you’ll be in good shape.
Play It Out
For some children, the most challenging aspect of a dental visit is having someone explore their mouth with examination tools and gloved fingers. Not surprisingly, this sort of intrusion of personal space can be an odd and off-putting experience for kids. While we’d never recommend sticking any foreign object into the mouth of your child, it can be useful to familiarize them, at least, with the sort of activity that may go on in their mouth at the dentist. Why not pretend to play “dentist” for them, checking on their teeth while telling them how cool it’ll be when they finally get to visit the “real” dentist?
Bring It to Life
There are a slew of videos online which will help acquaint your child with the dental office environment. Everything from videos showing kids in dental chairs like the ones they’ll sit in, to fantastical playground-type offices where kids really are treated like the kings and queens of the castle.
A first visit to the dentist does not have to be difficult. If you familiarize them with the process ahead of time, and avoid rushing the day of your appointment, you’ll be two steps ahead of the game.