Taking your toddler to the dentist for the first time can be a frightening notion. But it doesn’t need to be. Normally the first dentist visit is a precursor to more in-depth dental exams to come.
It is a time to ask the dentist all the dental hygiene questions that have been keeping you up at night, as well as introduce your curious toddler to the dentist chair. “This is usually a short visit and acts as an introduction to both the dentist and oral health care in general,” TrudentFamily Dentistry in Miami explained.
I remember the dentist quite fondly, but my childhood dentist had a treasure chest of goodies I was allowed to pick through after each gentle exam. Sometimes that first dentist visit causes more parent anxiety than emotions for your little one.
To help ease those parental worries, and potential meltdowns at the dentist office, here are five toddler tips you can tuck away in your parenting belt.
- Have You’re a Few Trial Dentist Visits At Home
Going to the dentist is kind of like going to get vaccinations. Your toddler will know something is up by the sterile environment and similar medical type aesthetics. They are certainly not dumb.
To make the first visit easier, have a few dental visits at home. This can be a fun game where you sit your child in a seat and have them open wide using song or funny noises. With mouth open, inspect gums, teeth, and even those sucking noises.
This will make your child more comfortable when it comes time for the real thing. You can even practice doing this with your toddler in your lap, since that is often the preferred method in the dentist’s office.
- Bring Your Toddler To The Dentist Day
Another great toddler tip for going to the dentist is to bring him or her with you to your next dentist appointment. This will give them a bird’s eye view and potentially ease any anxiety or fears that may arise when it is their turn.
This, however, is a team effort, since your teeth will be tied up. Enlist your partner, or even a friend your toddler trust to sit ringside while you get your teeth exam done. Word of caution — do not bring your kiddo to any root canals or more than minor dental checkups.
- Use The Right Vocabulary
Children, especially toddlers, have associations with certain words and tones. This is why you can most likely say their name when they are doing something wrong in a certain tone, having them whip to attention. The same goes for the way you speak about the dentist.
You certainly don’t need to go over-the-top, but explain what the dentist is, why he or she needs to go, and that it is a normal thing everyone needs to do. Use positive words and reflect a positive tone when talking about the dentist. This will help immensely.
- Timing Is Everything
Just like all things toddler, from haircuts to simply going to lunch, timing is everything. When you schedule the doctor visit, try to make it for a time in the day when you know your little one is calm, rested, and normally playful. If possible that is.
This can ensure your dental visit will be without temper tantrums and irritable, tired moments. Think about your child’s schedule and act accordingly for a smooth first dentist visit.
- Sometimes Your Toddler Will Win
When it comes to your toddler’s first dentist visit, there really is no telling what will happen. This is normal, and it is best not to fight it if things just are not going as planned. For example, if your toddler simply is not staying still, scared, crying, etc., it is best to give up.
I know this is a scary moment, especially considering the cost of the dentist, but the worst thing you can do is set up future dental visits up for failure. If the stars are not aligning as you predicted, call it a day and reschedule the visit.
There are dental offices that will give a free first-time toddler visit, in hopes of getting a new lifetime client, so do a bit of research so you don’t get stuck fitting the bill if you have to call the dental visit early.
Wrapping Up . . .
There are plenty of toddler tips for that first dentist visit. The above are a few you can begin employing to attempt to make that visit go as smooth as possible. Take your time and do some playtime dentistry to set the stage for the big day. What are your top toddler tips for the dentist? We want to hear them.