Mommy, Daddy, Help me! – An intro to your child’s first dental visit
So now that we’ve discussed what to expect at your child’s first dental visit, now let’s discuss the dynamics of the parent’s role in helping their child have a dental experience which will continue throughout their life.
As always, I must mention how things use to be just to give you a chance to open your mind to the differences between how things were done in the past compared to today.
Long ago when a child went to the dentist, their mother or father usually accompanied them into the office and the kid just sat down without any dispute. Now this was when the tools looked like something from a Frankstein movie (sometimes including the doctor with his white lab coat) and the smell of Euguenol (a dental product) hit your nose within 10 feet of the door! My have we come along way. These days a child might not even have a clue they are going to the dentist. The waiting rooms are filled with toys and murals on the walls and there may even be a video game console, some type of Play Station or a television to delight their senses before they enter the clinical area, and the smell of dental product(s) no longer exist.
Dentistry has now branched out so that the “little people” now have their own personal dentist and the experiences have gotten much better. Pediatric dentist specialize in the care of children’s teeth. Training does not only include the clinical aspect of the field but the psychological challenges as well. A pediatric dentist and staff must not only take in consideration of the child in their care but the parent(s) that come with them. Many of them go thru transformations from putting on ridiculous looking masks or funny hats to singing songs some of them haven’t sung in years just to try and help make the visit for your child(ren) as comfortable as possible.
Not all the time, but sometimes parents can make or break their child(ren)’s visit(s) to the office. Parents have been known to overreact to their child’s cry for help from the big bad wolf (dentist) and most of the time it is not warranted. Now don’t get me wrong, but many times children will react to parent’s reactions. The majority of children going to the dentist for the first time actually enjoy it, but there are those that just don’t want to be bothered by anyone, especially someone they’ve never seen before.
You must keep in mind, nobody, not even us grownups want a stranger in our personal space. It’s the same with our little ones, they can get a little intimidated when the dentist begins the process of trying to clean their teeth, especially for the first time. So to you parents out there who may be concerned about that first dental visit or need some assistance with the thought of your little darling’s first dental visit going smoothly, I want to give you some things that will hopefully help you to help your child come to terms with this new world of going to the dentist.
Dentistry begins at home. Remember when you little one got his or her first couple of teeth? You were so proud and more than likely you did everything to keep those new additions to your precious one’s smile clean and bright. Well just because your little is getting older doesn’t mean you should stop cleaning their teeth. Be sure to keep up the practice of brushing their teeth. Let them know how it feels to have someone brush their teeth. Children like to mock us adults. Let them see you brushing your teeth so that they will start to come to terms with the idea.
- Try not to say things like, “I hated going to the dentist when I was little. Be encouraging to your little one.
- Learn the difference between the “I don’t want to be here cry” from the “I’m really in pain” cry.
- Try to schedule the appointment in the morning hours when your little one is up and ready for a challenge or after nap time so that they will be refreshed.
- If your child has a special toy, book, or blanket, bring it with you so that he or she will feel more comfortable while in the chair.
- If there are siblings and you feel having them there will take away from the visit, you may want to consider bringing a helper or having them stay at home, (at least for the youngest one’s first visit).
- If you are feeling uncomfortable about something you see or you feel the dentist may not be doing to keep your child comfortable, don’t abruptly interrupt, instead try to make eye contact with the dental assistant so that they will alert the doctor to your concerns, or softly speak to the assistant or doctor.
Taking your child to the dentist is good thing because you don’t want them growing up being afraid of having their teeth cleaned or getting dental work done, it’s just not healthy! Yes the experience these days for children is much better than in the days of medieval times and you (the parent(s) are one of the most key factors in launching your child’s dental health.