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This summer our girls had their first dentist appointment and I was so pleased that it turned out to be a very positive experience for them. I think they felt really grown up and proud of themselves after it was all done. And of course, they loved the free toothbrush, toothpaste and little toy they received from the dentist’s office for being so brave.
Both girls were a little apprehensive about their first dentist appointment so I wasn’t sure what would happen once we got there. Thankfully, it turned out far better than I expected and there are several reasons for this.
There were a few simple things I did to prepare them for their first dentist visit and they are things that you can do too!
- Choose a child friendly dentist office. Some of the techs at the dentist’s office we first took Snootz didn’t handle working on a 3-year-old as well as I would have liked. That office doesn’t specialize in pediatrics and even though Snootz did fairly well (in fact, he looks pretty happy in the photo), it wasn’t an ideal situation. Since we’ve switched to a dentist that specializes in pediatrics we’ve had a much better experience.
- Talk to your child about their visit ahead of time. Let them know what to expect. If you know your child will receive a new toothbrush, stickers, or little toy, encourage them by letting them know ahead of time that they can look forward to receiving a reward for being brave and getting their teeth checked and cleaned.
- Read books to your child in order to prepare them. There are some wonderful books available to help support you in this.
- Provide your child with some toys for hands-on exploration. The Playdoh Doctor Drill ‘N Fill is a great choice!
- Bring your child with you to one of your cleanings (if your own dentist approves of this) and let them watch. Months before Snootz’s first appointment I brought him with me to my appointment so he could watch and see how wonderful it is! 🙂 For some children this might not be helpful and scare them, so use your best judgement.
There are quite a few good books that you can read to your child before their first dentist visit to help prepare them and to possibly even make it an enjoyable experience for them. I found that the Usborne Going to the Dentist book did a wonderful job of telling the story of a child’s first dentist experience. Our girls most loved the Curious George and Berenstain Bears books.
For some hands-on exploration I purchased the Playdoh Doctor Drill ‘N Fill set and all three children absolutely love it and it has provided hours and hours of enjoyment for the kids. They decided to practice being dentists and pretend to use the battery operated drill and other tools on themselves, their dolls, and their stuffed animals and thought it was hysterically funny.
However, even if you do nothing more than take the time to talk to your child ahead of time about what to expect at their first dentist visit and read them a fun book, it can make such a big difference in their overall experience. For the child that is a little frightened or hesitant it might help ease their fears and who knows, they might even have fun going to the dentist!