by Erin A trip to the Dentist can be an anxiety filled experience for the many of us. So how do we prepare our children for a successful first visit? Here are a few tips that worked for us:
1) Get there early...but not too early. Make sure you give yourself time to fill out paperwork and let your little one get settled in the waiting room (with a book or toy from home). Don’t arrive so early that you spend too much time waiting – this can cause anxiety and increase the chances of seeing another child who is unhappy.
2) Book the appointment for your child’s best time of day. If they are still napping in the afternoon, opt for a morning appointment.
3) Talk up the Dentist. Hubby and I would occasionally inject comments about “how cool the Dentist is” into conversation in the weeks leading up to the appointment.
4) Practice. When brushing teeth with your child make sure to do a very thorough job – take a little longer than usual in the days leading up to the appointment.
5) Look at pictures. Search for pictures of dental offices online and then look at them with your child. Use the pictures to discuss the visit from start to finish.
Last month Miss K had her first visit to the Dentist. We go to Deschênes-Poitras Family Dental Centre (www.visitourdentalfamily.ca) in Stittsville. I have been going there for a few years now and I knew it would be a great place for the kids to go as well. Their large waiting room has an amazing play house and the treatment rooms are equipped with kid size table and chairs. More importantly, the staff has always been very professional and caring.
Despite the preparation, Hubby and I set our expectations pretty low as Miss K tends to be pretty nervous about things like this. To our shock and amazement she was a champ through the entire visit. Our hygienist was really awesome! She took her time and explained all of the tools she would be using in a kid friendly way. Miss K’s favourite was “Mr. Slurpee” – the suction tool. She then proceeded slowly through the entire cleaning, explaining just the right amount to keep Miss K relaxed.
Dr. Poitras was kind enough to answer a few questions that were on my mind prior to our first visit:
At what age should a child first visit the dentist? "We like to see them between the ages of 18-24 months to have them get comfortable with the environment and to have a very quick look to see if there is anything out of the ordinary. Actual hygiene treatments start between 3 and 4 years of age."
How do we introduce flossing to small children?
"Well it's quite easy. Since children follow the monkey see monkey do mentality and since parents floss every night (wink, wink), all you need to do is floss your teeth and they will want to do the same. Let them play with it, they will not damage anything. Then tell them that mom or dad just wants to check and then you could floss for them afterwards. Floss picks work well. You should try this at about the same time as their first successful hygiene appointment, where the motivation of the appointment could be carried through at home."
Before bed Miss K had a question “Can I go to the Dentist again tomorrow?” Success!
Do you have any tips or experiences to share?
Erin is mom to 3 year old “Miss K” and 1 year old “Mister J”. You can read her blog at My Suburban Adventure