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Five Ways to Make Your Child’s First Dental Visit an Experience You Want to Remember

 

1) SEEK OUT A PEDIATRIC DENTIST. Pediatric dental offices are set up specifically to ensure that children have a great experience. Pediatric dentists have multiple years of additional training in treating children’s dental needs, their growth and development, the ability to observe pathology, special medical needs and syndromes, trauma, emergencies, and behavior management to make certain of a great experience. In addition, pediatric dentists are trained in different types of sedations for the timid, anxious, or extremely nervous child. We are in a new era of dentistry. There is no reason children should not have a fun, great experience at the dentist. Too many adults have grown up with a fear of the dentist that stems from too many bad experiences. A well-trained pediatric dentist can change that mindset. Remember, when a child has a great experience, the parents will have a great experience.

 

“when a child has a great experience, the parents will have a great experience”

 

2) FIND A DENTIST THAT ALLOWS PARENTS INTO THE HYGIENE AND TREATMENT ROOMS. Too many dentist offices state they do not allow parents in treatment rooms because they want to build a relationship of trust or because they want kids to get used to the idea of being on their own. The dentist tells the parent that the child will do better without the parent there. In some instances, I agree. However, the majority of the time, I find that the parents stay out of the way and allow the dentist to do his job. I don’t treat the child any differently based on whether or not Mom or Dad is in the room. In fact, I enjoy watching the parent see how well the child did and experience the visit with the child. I think some dentists are scared about what they will do in front of the parent if the child gets upset. Let’s face it, anything new can be scary. Children always feel more comfortable if Mom or Dad can be there. We all feel more comfortable if we have someone else with us when we are trying something new. That doesn’t apply solely to children; parents also feel more at ease because they can see what is going on and are able to be involved in the whole experience.

 

3) TAKE YOUR CHILD TO MEET THE DOCTOR AND STAFF AND TAKE A TOUR OF THE OFFICE BEFORE THE DENTAL VISIT. The day of the appointment holds a lot of anxiety; you can eliminate uncertainty on your child’s part by letting her meet the dentist and staff in advance, which will lower the anxiety level. Just knowing what the office looks like will also remove some of the fear of the unknown.

 

4) GIVE POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT. I cannot count how may times I have met children who are terrified of the dentist because Mom and Dad told them they hate the dentist or said they are afraid of the dentist. I even have parents who tell their child they will get a big shot if they are not good. Wow! That would scare me. Instead, let your children know that the dentist is fun. Tell them the office is full of TVs, aquariums, video games, or flat screens on the ceiling with kids’ movies playing (if it’s true of your dentist’s office, of course). Let your child know that this visit is special. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in helping your child have a great experience. If you want to go the extra mile, practice at home with your child, opening his mouth and pretending to count his teeth and then brushing his teeth as a hygienist might do.

 

5) BEGIN AND MAINTAIN GOOD ORAL HYGIENE HABITS AT HOME AND AT AN EARLY AGE. Brushing, flossing, and keeping your child familiar with good oral hygiene habits-along with a healthy diet-will also allow for a better visit to the dentist. When your children know they have been doing what they are supposed to do for their teeth at home, it makes for a very positive visit to the dentist. Contrary to popular belief, this is not the child’s responsibility, but rather the parent’s responsibility to ensure the child maintains good oral hygiene.