First Trip To The Dentist

Emotional Pain

There is only so long you can put things off and this holds true for your child's first visit to the dentist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends your child be seen by the dentist by the age of one year. The parent experiences this milestone much as they do inoculations—as painful but necessary actions inflicted on a child by a loving parent. The truth is that the emotional pain of the parent is far worse than any physical pain felt by the child during the inoculation or dental visit. But there are steps you can take to make things easier on your child and on you.

Start by finding a pediatric dentist, even if it means you have to travel some distance for visits. A pediatric dentist sees only children, or at least sees a great number of them. The whole set-up is different with a pediatric dentist, as opposed to the regular kind. The waiting room will have fun toys to play with and books you can read to your child. Ask around for recommendations. If you hear of any negative reports, take your child to someone else. If you're new to your area, see if you can find a message board where you can post a question asking for advice on whom to see.

Full-fledged Tantrum

Try to schedule the visit on a day when your calendar is empty. That way you are free to give your child your fullest attention, in case she/he is fussy after the fact. Don't schedule the visit during the time your child naps—you want to avoid the sleepy crankiness that can turn into a full-fledged tantrum. Morning appointments are the ideal, when children are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. That's the best way to turn a possible negative experience into a positive one.

Prepare your child in advance of the visit. Talk about the upcoming event. You might say, "Now that you're a big girl, you're ready to meet the dentist. The dentist helps you keep your smile healthy."

Honest Answers

Let your child ask questions and give honest answers. You can reassure your child that you will stay by her side. Make a visit to your local library and ask the children's librarian to recommend children's books for prepping kids for first dental visits. Read these books to your child prior to the appointment. There are also some videos available on the subject. Search Google for appropriate videos or discs on the subject. Google is also the place where you will find dentist coloring pages. You can print these out for your child to color. The key here is to provide several different types of media through which your child can gain understanding. Preparing your child through all of his or her senses is the best way to cover all the bases and avoid fear of the unknown. Follow these simple steps and you'll be rewarded with beautiful before and after smiles.

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