First Trip to the Dentist: How to Prepare Your Child
Taking Care of Your Teeth
Good dental hygiene is a must for everyone. Research has proven that the better our oral health is, the better our overall health will be. With regular brushing and flossing we can reduce the risk of not just gum disease but also improve our heart health. So how can we instill these important habits in young children and get them ready for their first trip to the dentist?
Getting Ready for a Visit to the Dentist
Preparing for a trip to the dentist begins at birth. I know that as a new parent you have many more things to think about than taking your child to the dentist one day but these tips will help you to see how easy it really is to start young.
- First, it is important to brush your child's gums and then teeth from the very beginning. This will help your child to see the importance of this activity as well as get them comfortable with someone working on their teeth. Before your child has teeth you would just wipe down the gums with a damp cloth and not use a toothbrush. As your child's teeth begin to emerge, you will introduce and switch to the toothbrush.
- Second, talk with your dentist about what age is best for your child's first visit. I have heard the ages range from one (to get the child comfortable with the dentist but no real "work" is done) to three. Our dentist recommended age three. I brought my children to my check up that was closest to their first so that they could see what the dentist would be doing and that it didn't hurt me and it wasn't scary.
- Choose a dentist that you are comfortable with your child going to. Many people will opt to send their child to a Pediatric dentist. They obviously specialize in children's dental health the best. However be sure to get recommendations. We have a friend that opted to go to a Pediatric dentist and had a terrible experience while we decided to have our children visit our "regular" dentist and had a great experience.
- Read a story or two about what to expect when going to the dentist. I am a big advocate of using books whenever you can to help ease a child into a new situation. There are many great books out there that can help you out. Having some words of advice from a familiar character may be just what your child needs to ease her mind.
- Be honest about what to expect but do it in kid friendly terms. Talk with your child about things like what the instruments may sound like, that they will get to sit a chair that moves, that she will have her teeth counted, and that the dentist will be taking some pictures of your teeth. I feel that the more honest that you are, the more relaxed that they will be. Shy away from including your personal feelings or bad experiences at the dentist. Keep the dialogue positive and upbeat!