Your child's first teeth are sprouting. Now what? A visit to the family dentist is in order, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Taking your toddler to the dental office can be a challenge. That said, you have plenty of options when it comes to making the trip easier. Check out these tips for taking your young child to her very first dentist visit.
You know what happens at the dentist office, but your child doesn't. Before her first visit, create a dry run with some pretend play at home. Set up an imaginary dental office in your play room and act out a visit. Let your child play the role of the patient, while you (or an older sibling) plays the part of the family dentist. After she gets used to what's going to happen, let your little one switch things up and be the dentist. She can show you what she expects by acting out this role.
Your toddler doesn't have a full vocabulary yet. Some of the words that she may hear at the dentist's office will be new to her. Help her to understand these words before she goes, and while she's at her first visit. This might include the words for some of the dentist's instruments or some of the people who she might meet (such as "hygienist").
Meet the Staff
A stranger putting their hands in your child's mouth isn't exactly an easy start to a first dental visit. Understandably, it's scary for your toddler. Before the actual exam starts, make sure that every staff member who will help your child introduces themselves to her. This includes the dentist and the hygienist. Meeting the friendly dental pros may make your child feel more comfortable and put her at ease.
Try the Tools
The suction tube that the dentist uses to keep your child's mouth dry is completely unfamiliar to her. So are the tools that the dental pros use. Ask the dentist if your child can take a few minutes before her exam to explore or even handle the tools. If possible have the dentist demonstrate how the tools will be used on a model or even on a doll that your child brings.
Stick Close By
Instead of heading off to the waiting room, stay in the exam room during your child's visit. This gives your child a greater sense of comfort and lets you see what's going on. Some dentists may ask you to sit in the chair, and hold your child on your lap. This depends on the dentist's preference, your child's behavior, and your child's size.
Make the first trip to the family dentist fun—or at the very least, smooth. With some simple prep steps you can ease your child into the visit and make sure that she gets all of the healthy mouth care that she needs. For more information, talk to a dentist, such as Jeffrey S. Thaller DMD.