Helping Your Child At The Dentist

Dental health is important for everyone, even small children. However, it's easy to put off your toddler's first appointment with a kids dentist. It's important to remember that your actions now could affect your child's dental health throughout their entire life; help your little one have healthy teeth by using these recommendations as you acquaint them with their first dentist.

Visit Offices

Before deciding on a specific dentist, it's a smart idea to visit a few different offices in the area. Some dental offices have play areas for kids and having your child explore these places can give you a feel for how comfortable they are in a particular place. You can also converse with a few parents for opinions on dentists and the way the office is run.

Try Roleplay

Once you've decided on a particular dental provider and set up the appointment, it's wise to give your child some guidance about what to expect. You can let them accompany you to you or a spouse's dental appointment, but an easy way to prep them for their own experience is to roleplay. You might use a stuffed bear or a doll as "the patient" and pretend you're the dentist, or you can just have your child lean back as if they were at the dentist. By going through the motions and actions of a real dental appointment with them, they can be more at ease when they need to do it for real. Talk about behaviors that are appropriate and give them some words or phrases to use if they become uncomfortable.

Bring Stuffed Animals or Videos

A favorite stuffed animal or a favorite movie can do wonders when a child is sitting in the dentist chair. Being able to interact with something familiar can ease concerns or provide simple distraction during periods of waiting or while the dentist works in their mouth.

Of course, your child may not be in the mood to play with or watch something they can always use at home. For that reason, you might also ask whether the dental office has their own videos or toys so that your child can be distracted by something that's new to them.

Make Post-Appointment Plans

If your child still has some concerns about their first appointment, being able to look forward to an activity or reward of some kind can help. For instance, you might tell them that a new toy or new library books are on the way if they can remain calm during their dental appointment. This can give them extra motivation to behave well.