We had a wonderful visit a few weeks ago with one of our very busy families who came in for their dental check-ups. We enjoy when families come in to visit. It’s like a big get together and there’s always so much to catch up on.
It was a Kodak moment when their 14 month old got to have his first ride in the dental chair. He was more than just a willing participant; we were pleasantly surprised when he was ready to open wide before we even asked! It was fabulous to see the encouragement his older siblings gave him on his first dental visit.
First visits to the dentist can be an emotional transition for children
Kudos to parents who help us do our jobs!
While it is easy to unknowingly transfer our own fears to our kids, you help us immensely when you inspire in your children responsible and positive attitudes towards their dental well-being. It is always wonderful for us to see just how comfortable and trusting children can be at the dental office.
To know that there are so many children in our practice that have never experienced the fear that is commonly associated with dentistry gives us a tremendous sense of gratification and it inspires us to continue striving to do a great job.
We think all children should have the same positive attitude towards their dental visits and starting with a good program early on in life will help ensure that your child’s teeth will last a lifetime!
What a first dental visit should be like
We are all parents here and we know kids like to have fun. We think your child’s first visit should be a positive experience, so at Your Smile Dental Care we offer a “Child’s First Visit Tour.” During this time, your child will have the opportunity to meet some members of our dental team and enjoy a ‘chair ride’, look in the dental mirror, and even play with the water squirter all in an informal and relaxed manner. And, by all means, don’t forget to have your camera ready to record forever this precious Kodak moment.
How to Prepare your Child
1. Start Early – Many dentists like to see a child by their first birthday. Scheduling routine visits every 6 months thereafter allows a child to become accustomed to the dental office, it’s staff and the surroundings. They will begin to accept dental visits as a normal and regular part of their lives. If they do ever need any restorative treatment, we find that a child experiences much less anxiety when they have already developed a trusting relationship with the dentist.
2. Negativity – Sometimes, parents unintentionally describe visits to the dentist using negative words or phrases like – “It’s not going to hurt” or “you wont’ feel any pain” Most children instinctively pick up on the words, hurt and pain. If they have any questions, encourage them to call the office and ask for themselves. This creates independence and a sense of responsibility for their own experiences. You can set a great example by being a positive role model with your own visits and not show any worry or fuss as you prepare for your visit. Letting them accompany you and play in the dental playroom during your appointment also allows them to bridge the connection between home and dental office.
3. Tour the Office – If your child did not have an opportunity to begin early visits as a baby, visiting the office for a tour beforehand will help take the mystery out of what a dental office looks like. Getting acquainted beforehand will hopefully dispels any misconceptions they may already have and reduce some of their anxiety.
4. Comfort items – Bringing a beloved toy or blanket along for dental appointments can be very useful to help a child feel safer and less nervous during an unfamiliar experience. In fact, if other patients are allowed to bring along electronic devices, books or pillows, we support patients who would like to have their favourite comfort item with them.
5. Start at home – As you can see, familiarity is the key! The more common and routine something is the less likely it will cause stress. Educating your child by reading books, watching videos, playing dentist at home, or engaging in small talk about the dentist while brushing their teeth are all ways to help your child become acquainted with the whole idea of routine dental visits,
6. Preparation – Any experience can become more difficult for us if we are “hangry” or tired. Ensuring that your child dresses comfortably, has a good night sleep and eats a light, healthy meal before coming in for their visit goes a long way in ensuring your is in the “mood” for a dental appointment.
7. Control – It can be difficult for some parents to relinquish control to their child and the dental staff, but it can gets confusing and bewildering for a child if they are getting instructions from so many different people. We deal with children of all different ages, experiences and temperaments and customize our interactions with each child accordingly. Allowing a child to feel like they have a measure of control helps them feel more secure and independent. We accomplish this in a number of different ways, but most importantly we proceed according to the cues we receive from each child.
There is no age limit on having to navigate through new experiences.
Check out our “Child’s First Visit” video below:
If this sounds like the ideal “first visit to the dentist” to you give us a call us today. Together we can make your child’s first visit a positive one!
Dr. Sam Axelrod & Associates
Your Smile Dental Care
(905) 576-4537 Oshawa
(416) 783-3533 Toronto