Getting Over Dental Anxiety
Your child’s first dental visit can be challenging and nerve wracking for both of you. You’re probably nervous for how your child will react and feel during the appointment; they are nervous before the appointment because it is a new experience in uncharted territory. We want to give you the best advice on how to prepare yourself and your little one so your first visit is as successful as possible!
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that all children visit a pediatric dentist between 6 months and one year of age. This is important so we can show you and your child how to properly care for those erupting little chompers. It is also vital to choose a dentist that specializes in pediatric dentistry for numerous reasons.
Picking the Right Pediatric Dentist
First, only the top 10% of dentists obtaining a four-year dental degree are accepted into the dental specialty programs. Second, pediatric dentists must train an additional two years at an accredited pediatric dental program in order to receive a graduate certificate in pediatric dentistry. Plus, pediatric dental offices, such as Snodgrass King, include toys and are brightly colored to create a non-threatening environment.
What You Learn On the First Visit
There are multiple topics that need to be discussed at the first dental appointment, these include:
1. Proper bottle-feeding and nursing techniques
2. Proper brushing techniques, which includes what toothbrush to use and how; how much toothpaste to use, and what kind of toothpaste to use
3. Proper flossing techniques and the best types of floss for children
4. How and when to encourage your child to stop using a pacifier or their thumb or finger for comfort
How to Prepare Your Child For the First Visit
Now that you know what to expect from your child’s first dental visit, we want to give you some tips on how to prepare your child.
1. Educate / Prepare Your Child
During the first visit the pediatric dentist will do the following:
a. A gentle but thorough examination of the erupting teeth.
b. Check the child’s gums, bite, and other oral tissues.
c. Do a gentle polishing of the teeth to remove any developing plaque, stains, or tartar buildup.
d. Demonstrate the most effective home brushing techniques.
e. Thoroughly discuss bottle-feeding, breast feeding, pacifiers, finger habits, etc.
Read your child books about going to the dentist, for example, Sesame Street’s “Ready, Set, Brush”. You can also prepare your child for what’s to come by starting proper home oral care at an early age. Then they will be used to getting their mouth cleaned and taken care of, and won’t be surprised at the dentist.
2. Know What to Expect for the Four Year Old
The pediatric dentist, their office, and their staff are trained in techniques to make your child feel comfortable at the dentist. The pediatric dentist and staff are trained in child psychology. At the age of four children become much more trusting of their environment. To better prepare for their first visit, we recommend role-playing! This is a great and fun way for them to understand what the doctor will do during the visit.
3. Be a Great Role Model
Show your child that oral care isn’t scary! Brush and floss your teeth in front of them, and act enthusiastic about it. Then, when you have to go to the dentist, talk about it excitedly. Avoid talking about pain or discomfort and emphasize how healthy their teeth and smile will be afterward. This will help ensure your child that it isn’t a scary place.
4. Choose the Right Time of Day
Take your child to the dentist at a time of day when he or she is alert and in a good mood. Scheduling an appointment after nap time and with a full stomach is usually best. You would be cranky at the dentist too if you were hungry!
5. Be Consistent
Make dental visits a priority. When your child visits the dentist frequently, they will know what to expect, and soon enough it will seem like you never worried about it to begin with.
Try out these tips before you come to help prepare both yourself and your child for the first visit!
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