Good oral health practices start early! In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, your child should see a dentist by their first birthday, or within 6 months of their first tooth (whichever comes first). For any parent, though, tackling the first dentist appointment can seem a bit daunting. Never fear—with these five easy tricks, you can make sure your child’s first appointment is a breeze.
1. Read a fun book about visiting the dentist.
Most kids love reading stories before bedtime. Therefore, a fun and easy way to start preparing them for the appointment is to try a few fun stories about seeing the dentist. Classic children’s book characters like Elmo, The Bernstein Bears, and Dora the Explorer all have books that make visiting the dentist seem like an adventure.
2. Play pretend so they can practice.
One of the best ways to prepare for the dentist is to practice! Try making it a fun game. You can “play dentist” with them using a toothbrush, flashlights, and even a rinse cup. Be sure to touch each of their teeth with the toothbrush so they can get used to someone looking inside of their mouth. You can also help your child play dentist with their stuffed animals. By making a visit to the dentist feel fun, they’ll likely be less nervous when the time comes for the real deal.
3. Let an older sibling set the example.
Children often want to emulate their older brother or sister. This can be used to your advantage when it comes to your child’s first dentist appointment. Ask their older sibling to set a good example for the little ones. Let them demonstrate how to be a brave big kid when sitting in the dentist’s chair. This will help them to feel calm when it’s their turn.
4. Preparation is key!
When it comes to your child’s first appointment, the goal is to make it as quick and stress-free as possible. Too much time waiting in the office could cause them to grow restless, tired, or hungry. Therefore, we recommend filling out all of your forms in advance to keep waiting time to a minimum. You should also try to plan your appointment so it does not coincide with their usual lunchtime or nap time. You can also bring a toy or comfort blanket for them to hold in the chair during their appointment!
5. Remain calm and stay positive.
Unfortunately, we can’t plan for everything. Therefore, the most important thing you can do is remain calm. If parents keep positive, avoid scary words like “drills” or “needles,” and stay relaxed, your child will likely mimic your behavior. Remember: if your child gets upset or scared during the appointment, we are here to help! At Advanced Family Dental & Orthodontics, we’re trained to work with pediatric patients to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Ready to schedule your child’s first dentist appointment? Call Advanced Family Dental & Orthodontics today!