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January 15, 2017  | by Gina

How to Prepare for Your Child's First Visit to the Dentist

Any baby or child’s first trip to the dentist for a preventative care visit should be fun (yes, fun!) With some simple preparations, it can be something that your child has no anxiety about and even looks forward to. Before your first trip, you can begin to talk about it at home, and start some habits that keep “surprises” to a minimum, and set up healthy habits for a lifetime.

You can introduce a child under 3 years old to what Dr. Farrow calls, “brushing like a dentist.” If there are two adults available, seat your child on the lap facing the first adult. Bend the child onto his or her back (this can be silly and fun!), and have the second adult brush the child’s teeth with his or her head in the second lap (upside-down.) If you are the only adult present, you can sit on the floor and have the child lie with his or her head in your lap. This is the “lap-to-lap” position from which Dr. Farrow will brush the child’s teeth and conduct the exam in the office, and doing it at home provides a level of comfort with the procedure.

Talk to your child about what a dentist does. Talk about counting the teeth, checking for healthy teeth and gums, making them “shiny” with a brush or polisher, going between the teeth with floss, and even “painting vitamins on the teeth” (fluoride varnish). Even if your child has spaces between the teeth, floss them at night. Not only will your child be better adjusted to this when it is done at the office, but even more valuably, will never view flossing as “optional” - just a part of what has to be done to keep the teeth and gums clean.

Books get children excited about the first visit! Here is a short list of books that are tried-and-true favorites:

The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist (Stan and Jan Berenstain, Random House)

Little Rabbit’s Loose Tooth (Lucy Bate)

Little Critter: Just Going to the Dentist (Mercer Mayer)

Curious George Visits the Dentist (H.A. Rey)

Brush, Brush, Brush! (Rookie Toddler) (Alicia Padron)

Let’s Meet a Dentist (Cloverleaf Books - Community Helpers) (Bridget Heos)

Your child will follow your lead… Be excited and upbeat about the first visit and communicate what a good experience it will be, and your child will get your cue. Use words like “visit,” “talk,” “polish,” “healthy,” “fun,” and “shine.” Avoid negative words like, “pinch,” “scrape,” or “hurt” - even if you are trying to assure a child that “it won’t hurt at all!” - it can bring the idea into the child’s mind where it didn’t exist before. Remember, to your child, this is a totally NEW experience, with no prior anxieties or worries attached.

Let your child know the dentist cares about keeping him or her healthy and happy. When you walk through the door at Monroe Street Family Dental, we will do everything possible to make it a great experience!