By Susan Braden
Do you know when you should start taking your child to the dentist? Generally, pediatric dentists want to start seeing their young patient's mouths by the age of three. So yes, this means you may need to take your sweet little toddler, prone to throwing full-blown tantrums, to his or her first dentist appointment soon! If the thought of this ordeal makes you want to run and hide, then read on for some tips that will help you survive your toddler's first low cost dental visit.
Most dentists can give you helpful advice about how to prepare your child for their first appointment. After all, your dentist should have some prior experience with difficult patients! Ask your dentist what the office protocol is for treating children. Many dentists start out a child's first visit by counting the child’s teeth, and showing them the tools that they use for a cleaning and checkup. Also, most dentists have a special prize to give children when they have completed their checkups.
Before this first visit, you may want to bring your child to your routine cleaning appointment so he or she can become familiar with the atmosphere of a dentist office, and know that it is a safe place. Do not take your child to an appointment in which you are receiving oral care that involves needles and drills. Watching this will not aid in calming your child's fears! Finally, if you have a particularly cautious child, consider taking him or her to a low cost dental provider that specializes in treating children, often known as a pediatric dentist. These offices are very kind to children and accept most low cost dental insurance policies.
While you do not want to instill fear into your children, you also do not want to deceive them into thinking that visiting the dentist is always a fun experience. Be honest with your kids about what they should expect. The more your kids know, the more prepared (and likely the more cooperative) they will be. If your kids are getting x-rays, use as much detail as possible to explain the process, which can be scary for some kids. Clue your kids in that the x-rays might feel a little uncomfortable and that you cannot wait to see how brave they can be.
Although you need to be honest with your kids about what may take place during their first visit, there is nothing wrong with building the experience up. Think of the experience as a rite of passage for them. Start talking about the dentist visit several weeks before it takes place. Focus on the fact that they are big now and get to go to the dentist just like Mommy and Daddy. This is also a great opportunity to communicate the importance of good dental hygiene to your kids. Explain that cavities hurt, and that getting them fixed hurts even more!
Do not forget that a little bit of bribery goes a long way! Think of a small reward to give your child at the end of his or her visit if the visit goes well. This reward can be anything from a special treat or toy to spending time at one of your child's favorite places. Then, lay out the expectations that you require for your child to receive the reward. Your expectations may need to be low during your child's first dental visit, from cooperation with the dentist, to no tantrums, to even simply getting through the appointment! Use your own discretion to come up with this criteria, and be sure to follow through if your child deserves a reward.
Face it, your child is not going to anticipate a visit to the dentist in the same way he or she will a trip to the park. To expect otherwise is setting both of you up for failure! However, your child's first low cost dental visit does not have to be an absolute disaster – applying these tips can help make your trip an overall pleasant experience.
For more low cost dental tips from Susan Braden, see this article.