While the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that infants have their first dental exam before the age of one, they aren't exactly going to be sitting with you in that exam room trying to calm a crying child in a dental office. Nope, you are on your own. The hacks below should help you survive, however.
1. Talk Like Friends: Talk to your child like you are planning a trip to a special friend's house. "Dr. Jane can't wait to meet you!" If you can, mention the dentist, the hygienist, and the office staff by first name, just like you would if you were meeting up with a friend.
2. Use It as a Point of Reference: Use the weeks before your appointment to breed familiarity by using the dental office as a point of reference for everything. "Oh, look! Dr. Jane's office is just down the street from our favorite park." The more you mention it, the less it becomes unfamiliar.
3. Mention the Fish Tank: If your office has a fish tank or some other discerning feature, talk it up as if it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Get your child excited to see this amazing fish tank. When you get there, admire this killer fish tank in depth to keep your child distracted.
4. Buy a Special Toy or Book: Buy a special book or toy for the dentist office. Pick something that will pique your child's interest. Bringing an old item is not nearly exciting as something brand new, and you want to create a feeling of excitement related to dental visits to "train" your child to like the dentist and, in turn, like taking care of their teeth.
5. Role-Play: Buy a pretend dental kit online and use it to role-play what will happen during a dental exam. See who can open their mouth the widest and say "ah." Fear of the unknown is what drives much of the crying. If you are lucky, your child will be stoked to know that the dentist knows all about this "say ah" game too.
6. Buy Sunglasses: Those giant lights that the dentist uses to help them see in the dark corners of your mouth can really be blinding. Adults just close their eyes and ignore it. Little kids, however, can't get past the brightness of the lights and will try to squirm or cry their way out of the situation. Coming prepared with a pair of cool, kid-sized sunglasses will help your child relax and keep that light out of their eyes.
7. Give a Reward: While most dental offices have stickers or little toys to give to good little patients, you need to make the reward even bigger for this first visit. Plan a trip to a favorite park or to the zoo, or whatever your child's favorite thing to do is.
If you try all of the above hacks and your visit is still a total flop, don't worry. You are not the first and you will not be the last parent to have a less than successful first dental visit with your baby. Try again in six months. Talk to a pediatric dentist for more information.Share
4 January 2019
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