Firsts are important when you have a baby, and the dental visit can be as nerve racking as watching them take that first step. And just like baby gates and hard-soled shoes, you need to be prepared for the first visit to the dentist.
Baby teeth are going to fall out, but good habits last a lifetime. Going to the dentist regularly when they are young is crucial to good dental health. Pediatric dentists can be obtained by asking your pediatrician or other mothers in your community who they recommend. At the visit you will discuss how your child’s teeth and speech are developing, if they suck their thumb or pacifier, how much fluoride they need (and where they should get it), and what their oral hygiene regimen should be. When they are approaching the age of five or six they will need to have x-rays as well.
Now with all this going on how do you get your child into that dentist’s chair? Children somehow know they don’t want someone trying to look in their mouth (have you tried to see those nice new teeth or help them brush?) so it may be a challenge, but here are some tips.
1. Pick a friendly dentist. Most people who chose any pediatric field love children anyway. Before you pick a dentist visit their office. Does the waiting room have toys and books to entertain children? Is the staff warm and welcoming? Are your questions answered patiently and thoroughly? If you are comfortable with the dentist you will have much more ease in convincing your children to trust them.
2. Get them there early. The first dental visit should be at about your child’s six month mark and then your dentist will suggest how frequently he wants to see your little one. Making trips to the dentist chair a familiar experience will cause less anxiety during return visits.
3. Stay positive. Speak about your previous experiences and their upcoming one in positive tones and use words that won’t scare your child. If they need to have work to repair a problem such a cavity, describe to them what will happen and how much better they will feel when they are done.
4. Read books. Find books that will get them interested in the process and explain the tools. Take the book with you when you visit and point out all the things the book said would happen. If they can follow along in a book they will feel a lot better.
5. Visit before the visit. Make an appointment for you and your little teether to see the office before the dentist will have to do any work. Have them play with the toys and meet the staff including the doctor. Making the surroundings more familiar will increase the likelihood of success.
6. Be prepared for the worst. Some kids just don’t like the dentist. Strangers, strange places, and strange sounds are all triggers for children to panic. You need to stay calm. Don’t let your nervousness show, and try not to yell at your child to be still. Let the dentist guide you both. They are trained in pediatric dentistry and have at least two extra years of training than other dentists which gives them the patience to distract your child and make them feel more at ease. If your child won’t calm down explain to the dentist that you will be back, but today isn’t the right day. Discuss with him things you might do at home to make the next visit more successful.
Of course, good dental care starts at home. Make sure your infant gets the proper vitamins and fluoride care from birth, start brushing their teeth as soon as teeth appear, and rinse with Listerine products when they are old enough to make sure they are getting 99% more cavity protection than brushing alone. Children should brush twice daily and only water should be given after brushing before bed. Milk and juices leave sugars that form acid on the teeth while they are sleeping. Doing what you can to make the visit pleasant starts with great care at home.
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