The field of pediatric dentistry focuses primarily on the oral health of children and adolescents. Some parents choose a pediatric dentist for the children, while others take the children to a dentist already known to the family. When choosing a dentist to treat a child, the most important consideration is that the professional has experience…
Prepare Your Child for Their First Pediatric Dental Appointment
While an infant’s teeth are growing safely inside the gums, there is no need to contemplate a pediatric dental appointment. But the time will come when tiny teeth poke their way out, requiring wiping, then brushing, then baby’s first dentist visit. Whether parents are promptly bringing a little one to meet the dentist at the earliest possible moment or dragging in an older child to make up for years of putting it off, the first time for teeth-cleaning should be carefully planned to make it as effective and easygoing as possible.
Before the visit
A successful first appointment starts long before the actual scheduled date and time.
Laying the groundwork
Parents should put effort into selecting the right dentist for this initial visit instead of automatically taking a child to the same dentist used by grownups in the family. Visit a few pediatric dental practices and look for a kid-friendly waiting room and appropriately sized chairs and equipment — and, most importantly, professionals who are happy to be working with children and have the patience and demeanor to prove it. Ask other parents for recommendations. Look up any choices online to see what other clients have to say.
One obvious way to get a child ready for an initial dentist visit is to keep teeth clean and introduce the idea of brushing and flossing if the child is old enough. The healthier the teeth going in, the easier the cleaning and examining in the chair. It is also worth searching the children’s library for picture books on going to the dentist so the child has some idea of what will happen. Many websites offer printable images to showcase the steps involved.
Practice makes perfect
Do some role-playing to make the child comfortable with opening wide, having tools tapping teeth and holding still for X-rays. Kids may want to play being the dentist too, so parents should be ready to be the patient.
Meeting and greeting
Ask the dentist if it is okay to bring the child in to look around and meet some of the professionals at the pediatric dental practice before the actual exam. The more comfortable the patient-to-be is with the place and the people, the easier the for-real visit may be.
During and after
With enough preparation, a child may be looking forward to the first dental visit instead of dreading it. Treat it as an exciting outing. Plan to do something fun afterward to top it off (maybe something along the lines of buying a book instead of buying ice cream, to be consistent about good oral health care).
During the appointment, parents should endeavor to provide an encouraging and upbeat presence, whether going into the treatment room to provide support and comfort or hanging in the waiting room to hear how everything went. Back at home, make a big deal about the new toothbrush and toothpaste the child may have been given and start in right away with putting any recommendations into practice.
Most adults are not enthusiastic about dental visits, but with a little effort, they can start children off in a much more healthy, appropriate and positive way. Those little teeth will be grateful!
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