Going to the dentist is never a fun thing for anyone, me in particular. My shoulders tense up just thinking of that dreaded drilling sound. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry you should begin regular dental visits for your children the minute they sprout teeth or at least by their first birthday. Since my son is three next month I guess it was time I bit the bullet and made an appointment. I knew I needed to ensure I didn’t fill him with my own fears.
Here’s a list of helpful tips to ensure a smooth first visit with your toddler.
- Pediatric Dentists vs. Family Dentists – Although I could have taken Little Man to my dentist I wanted to find a dentist that specialized in children. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits their practice to treating children only. You can find a pediatric dentist in your area at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
- Ask lots of questions - pediatric dentists are used to the first time visits and will sometimes even have a FAQ on their website to prepare you. I was able to learn that my office had TVs on the ceilings of the exam rooms for the kids to watch. It was also helpful to know that they have a huge prize bin of toys.
- Fill out forms ahead of time - the dentist even had online forms through their website to make things even easier. It certainly cut down on the wait time in their lobby for Little Man.
- Prepare your child in advance - whenever I want to prep Little Man for an upcoming event or holiday I always go and check out a few books on the subject. The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist is a great book for this such an occasion. A few days before the appointment I began to tell him about his upcoming dentist appointment. Each night when I brushed his teeth I would say, “This is how the dentist is going to look at your teeth” or “you will have to keep your mouth open wide for the dentist so he can count all your teeth!”
- Bring a favorite toy, blanket or stuffed animal – it’s always nice to have something comforting to pull out of your purse should they get scared.
- Leave the other kids at home – I knew I would need both my hands and focus to be on my toddler so I made sure the baby was watched by grandma.
- Make a special date afterwards – No matter how Little Man behaved I planned on taking him out afterwards for some special me and him time that he doesn’t get a lot since the baby was born. It made dental visits that much more fun.
Have you had your first dental visit with your toddler? How did it go?