The idea of taking your child to the dentist may be a little scary at first, but it’s very important. Did you know that you should go even if they don’t have teeth yet? With my first son, I sure didn’t. By the time the twins came along, I was more prepared, and wanted to make sure they didn’t have any dental problems due to their premature birth.
While a dental appointment may seem intimidating at first, just like anything new, if you prepare ahead of time, you can have a great experience.
In addition to swim lessons all week, I made a Dentist Appointment for each of my three boys. It might seem a little crazy taking all three at one time, but I’ve done it before, so I knew what to expect. It’s nice to get it all taken care of at once. Plus, no one will feel left out and there’s no need to get childcare.
I’d like to share our past experience and a few tips for visiting the Dentist with a toddler to make your trip a success.
Tips to Finding the Right Dentist
Tip #1 Find a “Kid” Friendly Dentist
While Family Dental offices are great, finding a dentist that specifically caters to kids, especially for the first few visits, is key. From the office being decorated, to how the rooms are set up, everything about the office has children in mind. Usually even the names scream Fun! The staff, including the front desk, all deal with children all the time, so they are used to tantrums, tears, and everything else that comes with a Toddler.
They are also used to scheduling siblings at the same time, so we were all in the same room. The chairs they used for the kids looked more like the tables you sit on at the Doctor. Plus, they just have them lay their head in Mom or Dad’s lap, while the Dentist looks in their mouth. It made everyone comfortable.
Tip #2 Find out about a Free First Visit or Discount
If you’re going to a children’s dentist, chances are they have some sort of free or discount visit for children under a certain age. For example, the twins got their first introductory visit for free since they were under 18 months. It’s basically just a chance to sit in the office, meet the Hygienists and Dentist, and get used to someone looking in your mouth.
Tip #3 Bring Help
If you’re bringing more than one child, try to find someone to help you out. My Mom and/or Dad is usually a good sport about accompanying us to any kind of appointments. It puts the kids at ease, and you have someone else to watch your other children, if one goes bolting out the door. This has never happened to me. I’m just guessing it could happen. Uh huh.
Tip #4 Start Talking About the Dentist Before Your First Visit
Even though they may not completely understand, I always tell the kids where we’re going and what’s going to happen. Anything out of a normal routine for a toddler can cause anxiety, but if you try to prepare them, chances are it will go a little better. We practice brushing, and even looking in their mouth before our first visit.
Tip #5 Don’t be afraid to Discuss your Concerns with the Dentist
For my oldest, I was concerned his pacifier, which he used after age two, would impact his teeth. Luckily, the Dentist explained that even using it until 3 years old will not hurt their teeth. However, they gave us a great incentive to get rid of it…an “I Quit” party. As soon as my son gave up his pacifier (he called it a Fa Fa?) for at least a month, they would throw a party for him.
We started with getting rid of the pacifier during the day first, then told him the “Fa Fa” Fairy would be coming to collect his pacifier for good in a few weeks. This gave him time to get used to the idea.
When the fairy came (and left a treat in return,) he fussed for the first few nights, but then he was fine. We scheduled our second dental visit and I reminded them about the “party.” they gave him a trophy, everyone sang to him, and we all got pictures. He was pretty happy!
With the twins, I was concerned about their teeth since they were preemies. I had heard that a lot of antibiotics in the first few months could affect their teeth. The Dentist listened to my concerns, then checked all their teeth and gums. Everything looked great!
Tip #6 Emphasize the Fun
I, personally, HATE the Dentist, but I NEVER let my kids know that. If you have a good attitude and focus on the good parts, they will pick up on that. Plus, at a kid’s Dentist, they always have prizes, stickers, and cool toothbrushes. I wish I got that stuff at my visits.
Remember, it’s very important to visit the Dentist.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child go to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after the first tooth erupts. Primary teeth typically begin growing in around 6 months of age.
I’m crossing my fingers for no cavities, no screaming, and no runners.
Have you taken your baby/toddler to the dentist yet? Any tips I may have missed?