The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you take your child to the dentist before their first birthday. While this may seem a little young, these earlier appointments are essential for both the child and parents because they help the child become comfortable with visiting the dentist. These early appointments also help educate the parents on best care practices for their child’s teeth and give them a heads up on things to watch out for.
You may be wondering how to prepare your toddler for their visit to the dentist. Their first visit shouldn’t be something to stress about, but knowing what to share with them can be helpful. Even adults get nervous about going to the dentist, and we have found these few tips most beneficial to parents with young children.
Envisioning a trip to the dentist as a positive experience can help your toddler to be excited about their first visit. Your child can sense if you are nervous about taking them to the dentist, or they may already have negative ideas about going to the dentist from stories they have heard in the past. Whether it be sparkly clean teeth, a ride in the dental chair, or a prize at the end that might excite your child, try to remain positive when speaking to your child about going to the dentist.
Read Books Or Watch Videos
Reading books or watching videos that involve going to the dentist can be a great way to introduce the idea of visiting a dental office. It can be good to preview or pre-read what you intend to read to them, as some information may be too much or inappropriate for the toddler.
Playing make-believe that you are at the dental office together can also be a great way to warm them up to the idea of going to the dentist. If you do this, make sure to keep playing fun and portray the dental office as an exciting place.
Build Good Oral Health Habits
Make brushing and flossing at home a priority for your little one. While brushing and flossing your little one’s teeth, look around in their mouth. You can also talk to your child about their teeth as you do this. The routine of this can become so normal for your child that it might not seem strange at all to them when a dentist or dental hygienist takes a look at their teeth.
Bring A Stuffed Animal
If your child is nervous about going to the dentist, reassure them that it is okay to feel a little worried about this because they have never done this before. Some kids have a favorite stuffed animal they like to take places with them. If your child has a favorite stuffed animal, allow them to take the stuffed animal when they go to the dentist for their appointment.
At Riverside Dental Care, we are happy to show your little one first how we examine their stuffed animals teeth. Many times, this alleviates any unknowns or fears about the appointment and they often open up after this to get their teeth looked at too!
Avoid The “H” Word
“Going to the dentist won’t hurt you.”
While this phrase seems like it would comfort your child, it can actually create anxiety or fear for children because the only word most of them hear in the sentence is the word “Hurt”.
Instead, we have found it to be beneficial to use other descriptive words like you might feel cold water, see a bright light, or experience a tickly toothbrush. These words help give description to your child without having them think that something might hurt.
We look forward to meeting your little one! Our goal is to welcome your child and create a great first-time experience, so they don’t struggle with dental anxiety! We see a lot of kids at Riverside Dental, and we want you as the parent to relax knowing that your child is in a safe place.