If you’re following me on Snapchat, you must have caught me at the dentist with my 5-year-old daughter two weeks ago. Besides, all the giggling we did about how big her permanent teeth looks in her x-rays, dental health is really important to our family.
My daughter’s very first visit was back when she was 2-years-old and I am happy that although she sometimes gets a little nervous she’s quite comfortable with visiting the dentist. Now that we’re 3 + years into pediatric dental visits, I feel like I am informed enough to share a few tips to help you prepare your kids for their dental appointments. My son’s first appointment is right around the corner and these are the ways that I will be preparing him for the dentist:
1. Let them know what to expect.
My daughter loves surprises, but I know that a surprise trip to the dentist doesn’t fall in the happy surprises category. So, I make sure to let her know about her upcoming visits and what to expect. I always keep the information as positive as possible, highlighting the benefits. Before her very first visit, I let her know that a dentist is someone who makes sure our teeth is healthy and removes gross plaque. I knew that there was a possibility of discomfort especially when the dental hygienist cleaned her teeth but I made sure to focus on just the positive. Now that she’s had a few tooth fairy visits, before her last visit, I let her know that the dentist will probably check out all her new teeth and how they are growing.
2. Prepare dental insurance documents prior to visiting.
The last thing you want to have to sort out with your kid at the dentist —especially if it’s their first visit—is dental insurance. My dentist emailed me all the forms and I filled out everything and scanned our insurance cards and sent it back to them prior to our appointment. As a parent, it’s important to make sure that your children have dental insurance coverage. I know it can be expensive and I am by no means trying to sound “preachy” but the cost of not having dental insurance and not taking your kids for routine check-ups can be even more expensive in the long term and emergency procedures can much more painful (think root canal). If you need dental insurance for your children Guardian Dental have been covering families for over 150 years and provide individual plans that can be purchased at any time. Their plans are really affordable, I was able to just enter my family members birthdates on their website and get a detailed quote in only a minute.
2. Find a dentist that specializes in pediatric dentistry.
The easiest thing to do is to just take your kid to your dentist, right? After all, it’s just teeth but I wanted to make sure that my kids have a dentist who is trained to care for children’s teeth and is very experienced with kids. You can find a good pediatric dentist by asking friends, reading reviews, getting recommendations from other parents at your child’s school or by using the dentist locator on your dental insurance website. I found that the Guardian Dental website made searching for a dental very easy.
3. Inform your dentist about your child’s personality prior to the appointment.
My daughter’s first appointment was fun and will always be a nice memory for her because her dentist was prepared to make her comfortable. When I made her appointment they asked a few questions about her personality just to make sure that she would be comfortable and she was excited that they had one of her favorite movies set up in her exam room when she arrived.
4. Bring along a toy to keep your child distracted.
Just in case, your child has nervous jitters or experiences some discomfort it’s nice to have a small toy on hand that can keep them distracted. This will also come in handy if you have a long wait. One time my daughter’s dentist had to attend to an emergency and our wait was an hour long, a toy would have came in really handy then.
5. Reward your child for cooperating at the dentist.
Once you get through the dentist, make sure to give your little one a reward for their cooperation. There are so many scary stories and negative conversations about dentists visits that you want to make sure that your kids have a completely positive approach to their dental health. After all failing to take care of their teeth can lead to decay, cavities, and eventually tooth loss which isn’t cool.
If you’re not a fan of visiting the dentist or you’ve had some painful experiences, make sure to never discuss them in your child’s presence. Keep things positive, make trips regular and it would be a great experience for you and your child.
How do you prepare your kids for a trip to the dentist?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.