I began writing this article from the perspective of a Registered Dental Hygienist, but my mind kept shifting from dental professional to mother.
It was my intention to write to you about preparing your child for their first dental visit from my clinical experience, but my instincts instead led me to write to you more from a mother’s perspective.
Your Role as a Parent
As a mother and Registered Dental Hygienist I believe the best thing we can do for our children is to empower them with knowledge, encourage healthy habits, and enforce both with tough love.
It’s hard to play the role of parent, but it is much better to follow through with our children’s daily oral health care routine than to deal with the associated feelings of guilt and distress that accompany extensive dental treatment for cavities at a young age.
As parent or caregiver, you are in charge of creating the ideal of a healthy lifestyle for your child. They learn by watching what you do, so help them establish a daily oral health care routine, take them for regular checkup and cleanings beginning at an early age- when teeth begin to erupt or at the age of one, whichever comes first- and arm them with knowledge and education about leading a healthy life.
Educate Your Child
Using Curriculum Services Canada approved educational resource Teddy Visits the Dentist will explain accurately and appropriately what happens at a checkup and cleaning appointment.
It has a glossary of terms, diagram of tooth structure, a map of primary teeth, an eruption chart at the back of the book, and was written by a Registered Dental Hygienist. Your child will know exactly what to expect at their visit to the dental office after reading this book.
“It’s a wonderful book for showing kids about going for a routine dental visit. The book uses the same language that dental professionals use around young children. It’s a great first step to take for any parent wanting to teach their kids that it’s fun going to the dentist and dental hygienist.”
5 Star Amazon Review by Neo
The First Visit
Something to realize (and not stress about) is that all children respond differently to their first dental visit. It is important to remember there are no expectations of your child at this visit. It is not a pass or fail.
It is a sensory experience for them to explore a new environment that they will be spending time in over the years. Some children respond positively, some not. Some get their teeth polished; others are more comfortable just exploring the new environment.
Bringing your child to the dental office gets them used to the sights, smells and sounds and at subsequent visits you will find your child becoming a willing participant in their checkup and cleaning. (If your child requires restorative work please read Teddy Gets a Filling).
I have a child who is scheduled for his first dental visit next month. I am already preparing him for his first visit and reinforcing these concepts to my older child who has had multiple appointments at the dental office, by speaking positively about oral health and the dental office.
We are trying some fun dental crafts from my Pinterest Board that involve teeth, brushing and flossing, and we are reading Teddy Visits the Dentist with increasing frequency the closer we get to his visit.
Daily I am educating and encouraging my children to be interested in their oral health and total body health. We cook together and eat healthy snacks and meals, and together we exercise as a family.
It is vital to your child that you view their dental experiences with maturity and an open mind. This is their adventure to explore, and you may be surprised at how well your child handles it.
Please don’t bring experiences from your dental past into your children’s reality.
As parents, it is our responsibility to be interested in our children’s oral health. They need encouragement, reminders, and lots of positive praise.