Last week Lily had her first trip to the dentist for a check up! It went really well, and I think that’s partly because we did try to prepare her for it. It’s something I was a little nervous about as I didn’t know how Lily would react. So to help other parents I thought I would post a few tips on how to have a successful first trip to the dentist (contains affiliate links):
Talk to your toddler about the upcoming appointment. Speak about it as an exciting event, something that they will enjoy. I explained to Lily that she was going to show the dentist how shiny her teeth are. I also told her that the dentist may use a mirror to see in her mouth and count her teeth. Telling her what was about to happen helped remove that element of surprise and shock. Lily has a Playdoh dentist set which has a little mirror tool in it as well that we looked at together. You can find it here: Play-Doh Doctor Drill-n-Fill Set
Take Them With You
Prior to Lily’s appointment she had been with me for every one of my check ups since she was born. This helps them to get used to the sights, sounds and even smells of a surgery. There’s definitely the distinctive smell of a dentists, and the whirring noises could be shocking to a child that’s never stepped foot in one before. The last couple of appointments I had Lily even had a little ride in the dentist chair, which she loved. We are lucky to have an amazing dentist who we see each time, and she has got to know Lily over the visits as well.
YouTube It Up!
There are various children’s programmes who tackle the issue of dentist visits: Topsy and Tim, along with Peppa Pig are just two examples. If you look on YouTube there will be a lot of clips that your toddler can watch. Not only the screen but also books can help, a quick search of Amazon shows, for example Peppa Pig: Dentist Trip or Going to the Dentist (First Experiences with Biff, Chip & Kipper)
Hide Your Nerves
If you suffer from a fear of the dentist the likelihood is your child will pick up on your tension quite easily. Children are so sensitive to our moods and if they see you’re anxious it may worry them. It’s really difficult to hide those emotions, especially if your fear is severe. However as much as you can, try and disguise it around them in order to prevent them developing the same fears. If your partner doesn’t have a fear, getting him or her to be seen first may help your child to see that there’s nothing to worry about. Your child can then be seen second, and your partner can take them outside for your turn in case you become emotional.
Most dentists offer stickers after a child’s visit, telling them about this and creating a sticker chart will be something they really enjoy filling in. They will look forward to their next visit when they can add another sticker to their chart. Just in case they’ve run out of stickers or don’t offer any, have some spare in your handbag!
Using these tactics can really help make that first dentist visit a success. A good relationship with the dentist will help your child have healthy, strong teeth that are well looked after.
Has your child got a dentist visit coming up? Have you just booked their first check up? I would love to hear about it in the comments!