How can I prepare for my child’s first dental visit?
This downloadable Parent’s Guide for Emergencies and Oral Health by the American Academy of Pediatrics is one of our favorite learning tool for parents wanting to stay proactive with their child’s oral health.
Parsi General and Children Dentistry staff’s goal is to make your child feel as welcome and special as possible during every visit. Stickers, toys, simple child-friendly explanations are some ways we accomplish this goal.
There are several things, however, parents are suggested to do to make the first visit enjoyable. Some helpful tips are listed below:
- Take another adult along for the visit – Infants sometimes become fussy when having their mouths examined. Having another adult along to soothe the infant allows the parent to ask questions and to attend to any advice the dentist may have. This is especially helpful if multiple children are being seen.
- Leave other children at home – Other children can distract the parent and cause the infant to fuss. Leaving other children at home (when possible) makes the first visit less stressful for all concerned. If multiple children are being seen our play area and our staff can accommodate to make your visit as easy as possible.
- Avoid threatening language – Our office staff is trained to avoid the use of threatening language, like drills, needles, injections, and bleeding. It is imperative for parents to use positive language when speaking about dental treatment with their child. Some examples:
- exam – teeth counting
- x-ray – tooth picture
- cleaning – tickling teeth
- needle/shot – sleepy juice
- drill – water whistle
- pull out tooth – wiggle a tooth
- Provide positive explanations – It is important to explain the purposes of the dental visit in a positive way. Explaining that the dentist “helps to keep teeth healthy” is far better than explaining that the dentist “is checking for tooth decay, and may have to drill the tooth if decay is found.”
- Explain what will happen – Anxiety can be vastly reduced if the child knows what to expect. Age-appropriate books about visiting the dentist can be very helpful in making the visit seem fun. Here is a list of parent and dentist-approved books:
- The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist – by Stan and Jan Berenstain.
- Show Me Your Smile: A Visit to the Dentist – Part of the “Dora the Explorer” Series.
- Going to the Dentist – by Anne Civardi.
- Elmo Visits the Dentist – Part of the “Sesame Street” Series.
What will happen during the first visit?
There are several goals for the first dental visit. First, the pediatric dentist and the child need to get properly acquainted. Second, the dentist needs to monitor tooth and jaw development to get an idea of the child’s overall health history. Third, the dentist needs to evaluate the health of the existing teeth and gums. Finally, the dentist aims to answer questions and advise parents on how to implement a good oral care regimen.
The following sequence of events is typical of an initial “tooth counting visit”:
- Dental staff will greet the child and parents.
- The infant/family health history will be reviewed (this may include questionnaires).
- The dentist will address the parent’s questions and concerns.
- More questions will be asked, generally pertaining to the child’s oral habits, pacifier use, general development, tooth alignment, tooth development, and diet.
- The dentist will provide advice on good oral care, how to prevent oral injury, fluoride intake, and sippy cup use.
- The infant’s teeth will be examined. Generally, the dentist and parent sit facing each other. The infant is positioned so that his or her head is cradled in the dentist’s lap. This position allows the infant to look at the parent during the examination.
- Good brushing and flossing demonstrations will be provided.
- The state of the child’s oral health will be described in detail, and specific recommendations will be made. Recommendations usually relate to oral habits, appropriate toothpastes and toothbrushes for the child, orthodontically correct pacifiers, and diet.
- The dentist will outline an appointment schedule and describe what will happen during the next appointment.
Fun and useful links for parents