Taking a toddler in for their first dental appointment is a major milestone in life. It is also important to start off on the right foot since you don't want your child to ever fear the dentist. The following tips can help avoid any bad experiences so that your child is set on a course for a lifetime of good dental habits.
Tip #1: Choose a pediatric dentist
A dental office that specializes in treating children doesn't just provide more targeted care for little mouths; it is also typically designed to appeal specifically to the tastes of young children. This means bright colors, a fun waiting room, and children's movies streaming in the exam room. These may not seem important to an adult, but for a child, this reinforces the belief that a dental appointment is a fun endeavor. In turn, this helps prevent any lifelong fears of the dentist.
Tip #2: Schedule wisely
Toddlers sometimes have meltdowns, but most of the time they can be avoided with a bit of forethought. This means scheduling the appointment at the right time. Avoid the busiest times, such as after the local public schools get out since a crowded office in the afternoon can overwhelm a toddler. Also, work with your child's personal schedule. If they are most content early mornings right after breakfast, then schedule your appointment early. On the other hand, if they tend to be most calm and content after their nap, then a later appointment may be better.
Tip #3: Watch your cues
Young children pick up cues from their parents. If you have a fear of the dentist, your child may mimic this fear until it becomes their own. Always speak well of the dentist and never use any words that make it sound like a dental visit is painful or scary. Keep your own fears or bad experiences to yourself so that they don't influence your child's thinking.
Tip #4: Add elements of play
The unknown can be the most worrying aspect of a dental visit for a young child, so prepare them for what to expect. You can do this with a combination of tactics. Start with books or television shows about dental visits that are aimed at young children – just prescreen them to ensure they don't introduce any scary elements like loud drills or pain. Also, try playing dentist at home. You can pretend to do an exam with a small mirror and toothbrush. If you feel brave, turn the tables and let your child be the dentist and perform an exam on your teeth, too!
Contact a pediatric dentistry office for more information.