Three Strategies to Help Prepare for Your Child’s First Dentist Appointment

Getting a child prepared for his or her first dental checkup can occasionally be a bit of a challenge if the youngster has trouble adapting to new environments. However, by the time your child reaches a year old, or his or her first tooth has appeared, it's time be to visiting the dentist. Even though this new setting might initially be overwhelming to your child, you can greatly mitigate the chance of any problems through a series of strategies to help get the child prepared with the process of visiting the dentist. Here are three effective things to try.

Help from Authors

Instead of trying to explain the process of visiting the dentist to your child on your own, you can turn to the wide range of children's books on the subject. Visit your local library branch or bookstore and find age-appropriate stories about going to the dentist. Children's books often tell the stories of characters who are initially unsure about visiting the dentist, but, upon going through the process, learn that there's nothing to be frightened about. Reading this book to your child in the weeks leading up to the first checkup can be a subtle reminder than everything will be OK.

Practice Makes Perfect

Children are often more comfortable in settings that seem familiar, so with a little creativity, you can recreate the experience of visiting the dentist in the familiar surroundings of home. Have the child sit in a reclining chair and encourage the practice of leaning back and holding his or her mouth wide open. You can play the role of the dentist by pretending to inspect and clean the child's teeth, either with a real toothbrush or any sort of small, plastic instrument that will not cause harm if the child closes his or her mouth suddenly. Repeat this process as desired and by the time the child has to sit in the dentist's chair, it might feel familiar and comfortable.

Advance Visit

Many dental clinics allow patients to visit in advance of their first appointment, and this strategy can be effective to employ with your child. Just as going through a pretend dental checkup can create familiarity, taking the child to the clinic to allow him or her sit in the waiting room and play with the toys can improve the chance of the child being comfortable on the day of the actual visit. If you call in advance to ask about visiting, the dentist or a dental hygienist might also be able to meet with the child for a moment.

To set up an appointment at a family dentistry, contact an establishment like Sarah M. LYNCH DMD.