By the time your child approaches his or her first birthday, it's time to think about getting ready to visit the dentist. Pediatric dental appointments are important as the dentist will be able to not only examine the health of your child's teeth, but also help you understand how to properly clean the teeth and discuss whether thumb sucking is causing harm. Your mind can race in the days leading up to this big milestone in the child's life, as you want to be sure the appointment not only goes well, but also that you remember to ask the right questions. Here are some simple ways to prepare your child for his or her first dentist appointment.
Pick the Right Time
Because you know your child best, you can use the child's behavioral patterns to schedule the appointment for the right time. Although a child's mood can change suddenly, booking your appointment early in the afternoon before the child's nap can make the visit more strenuous than it has to be. Whether your child is bright and cheerful early in the morning or late in the afternoon, do your best to book the appointment accordingly.
Be sure to explain the importance of dental checkups to the child. Focus on benefits such as having a bright, healthy smile and convey the message that visiting the dentist is something children do as they grow up. Today's Parent magazine recommends reading children's books about visiting the dentist as a way to make the upcoming appointment familiar and fun. Teach your child how to open his or her mouth wide like a hippo, and share your excitement at the opportunity to show the dentist this new facial expression.
Come Prepared with Questions
Although the dentist will provide a wealth of information about your child's oral health, it's always appropriate to be prepared with some questions of your own. If you're concerned that thumb sucking might be harming your child's teeth, ask if the dentist has any recommendations for you. Give a brief outline of the child's diet and ask whether there are foods you should avoid or increase and ask, based on the cleanliness of the child's teeth, if there's a better way you can approach brushing.
Offer an Incentive
Many children's health organizations advise against bribing your child to get through a dental appointment, but it's acceptable to plan something fun to do afterward. For example, plan a visit to the park on the way home from the dentist's office or consider organizing a play date with a friend. This excitement can help the child feel less anxious about visiting the dentist.
Contact a pediatric dentist like Mark Stapleton DMD MSD PC to go over any concerns you may have before your child's first dental appointment.