Many of us can’t remember our first dental visits. But we do remember acquiring general dental anxiety as the years have gone on. And while we may find it challenging to reverse this in ourselves, we can try to teach today’s children a positive dental mindset. They are the future, you know.
Read on for some tips on how to make your child’s first dental visit go as smoothly as possible!
Before the First Dental Visit
Use positive language when speaking to children about the dentist. We won’t know if they need a filling until we examine their teeth. For this reason, we recommend avoiding talk of drills and shots. We don’t want them prematurely stressing out about something that may not happen!
Try reading aloud children’s books about coming to the dentist for the first time. You might consider Mercer Mayer’s Just Going to the Dentist, or Dora the Explorer’s Show Me Your Smile! You can also search Amazon for similar titles. New experiences have a way of becoming less scary the more we know about them. So read these books and help your child familiarize him- or herself with a dental office before they come in!
If you yourself don’t mind coming to the dentist, you may even consider bringing your child along on your next exam and cleaning. You might think they’re not paying much attention as they’re watching a TV show on your iPad, but if they don’t hear any complaining from you, they’ll start to associate coming to the dentist with positive reactions.
At the First Dental Visit
Any child aged three or under is welcome to a complimentary “happy visit” at our practice. The purpose of this first visit is– you guessed it – to get the child leaving happy and excited to return to us in the future! Your child will become acquainted with our office and our staff and will see there’s nothing to fear.
Your child can expect his or first checkup – exam and cleaning – at four years old, but we won’t have to take x-rays until we can no longer see between the teeth (usually about five years). In most children’s mouths, enough space exists between the teeth for us to readily diagnose problems on sight. But if their teeth are already crowding on that first visit, we’ll probably recommend x-rays to see what needs to be remedied.
If a filling is necessary, know that Dr. Owens and our dental assistants are well-equipped to alleviate children’s anxiety. We’ll introduce them to our friends, who will make sure the process is as painless as possible! Who can they expect to meet if their mouths need a little extra care?
- Whistler – a drill who whistles while he works
- Bumpy – a drill who bumps along as he fills
- Sleepy Juice – the anesthetic that numbs the gums; your child won’t even feel the numbing shot because of this device!
After the First Dental Visit
- Your child can pick out a toy from our treasure basket on the way out! We may even have some smiley face stickers for their enjoyment as well.
- If your child is anxious about receiving further treatment, we may refer them out to a pediatric dentist for specialized care.
Please note: These guidelines are suitable if your child has never been to the dentist before, or if they have already visited once or twice with positive effects. If your child has already had a traumatic experience at the dentist, we recommend taking them to an office that specializes in pediatric dentistry. They’ll have games in the waiting room and an abundance of other goodies to make sure their first visit is a memorable one, as well as nitrous oxide to help ease any lingering treatment anxiety.
Let us know if you have any additional questions about your child’s first dental visit via our contact form, or call us at (970) 377-2557. We look forward to meeting you soon!