Preparing For Your Child’s First Visit
Whether it’s your child’s first visit to the dentist or just the first time to our office, we want your child to feel comfortable and have a good time. Prior to your scheduled appointment, we recommend you inform your child where they are going and discuss some basics of what they will be experiencing while at their appointment. A little time and effort spent preparing your child for their first visit sets the stage for a low stress, exciting, and fun first experience at the dentist.
- For all children under 5 years of age, and all new patient visits, we strongly encourage appointments to be made in the morning when the child is most alert and awake. Young children are often tired or fussy by afternoon time limiting their chance of having a successful visit
Here are some tips on how you can set your child up for a successful first visit:
- At least a couple weeks before your appointment, start a dialog with your child about why it’s important to brush and floss (healthy teeth and gums, beautiful smile, etc.) if you haven’t done so already. A good time to have this discussion is while you are helping them brush and floss before bedtime.
- Purchase a “going to the dentist” book for kids (see list below). Plan to read it together multiple times prior to their visit. These books will walk your child through the basic steps of a dental visit as well as introduce them to the dentist’s tools and equipment they may encounter while there. (You can also supplement with videos or websites online (see below).
- Write their appointment date on the calendar in bright bold lettering. Every day make sure visit the calendar together and remind them of their up-coming dentist appointment date. It’s also fun to count down the days left before they get to meet the dentist.
- If you child is anxious or nervous the day of the appointment, feel free to bring along a comfort item such as a favorite blanket or toy
When talking about their visit, always be positive. It is important to avoid the use of negative words that can often cause unnecessary fear and anxiety. Please refrain from using the words “needle”, “shot”, “drill”, “pull”, “hurt” or any other words associated with an unpleasant experience. Dr. Paul and his team will tell your child exactly what is going to happen in a pleasant, child friendly, non-threatening manner. Expect your child to do well and enjoy their visit to our office. Chances are they will do exactly that!
PLEASE, as tempting as it may be, never threaten your children with “if you don’t brush your teeth you’ll get cavities, then you’ll have to go to the dentist to get a shot and they will drill your teeth, or have to pull your teeth out”. Although your intentions are good (you want them to take good care of their teeth and not get cavities!), it rarely motivates a child to brush and floss better. Most often these types of threats will only cause the child to develop a fear of dentists, which can set them up for great anxiety for any future dentist visits. Your pediatric dentist can guide you on how to motivate your child to brush and floss better using more productive methods.
Lastly, even if you’ve had a bad experience at the dentist or are fearful yourself, be careful not to discuss these around your child. If your child hears you saying “hate going to the dentist”, it’s a certainty that your child will feel the same way even before they have ever had the chance to have a good experience.
Remember, be positive! Doing so will almost assure them a happy first visit and will aid in development in a healthy appreciation for their teeth and the dentist for a lifetime.
The First Dental Visit:
The initial appointment is reserved specifically for your child. Any change in this appointment affects many patients. If a cancellation is unavoidable, please call the office at least 24 hours in advance so that we may give that time to another patient.
Please print out and complete the health history form and bring it with you to the first appointment.
We will review the Health History Form with you at the first visit. At that time, you and your child will be introduced to our dental team.
Infants & Toddlers – Patients Under 3 Years of Age:
The purpose and goal of this visit is to provide the foundation for a lifetime of optimum oral health. We will discuss how to keep your child’s mouth clean and avoid cavities, healthy and unhealthy dietary habits, tooth eruption and exfoliation timing, dental injury and prevention, pacifier and thumb habits, fluoride use, as wells as address any questions or concerns that you may have. A thorough examination, tooth brush cleaning with instruction, and cavity risk assessment will be performed. Topical fluoride may be recommended and applied depending on your child’s cavity risk. The examination will be done with your toddler lying in your lap in a knee-to-knee position with the dentist. With this and following visits your child will mature and become more trusting. When they reach the age of three or when they become comfortable laying back in the dental chair, we will begin our regular continuing care as explained below.
Pre-schoolers and Above – Patients 3 Years of Age and Over:
Between the age of three and four, your child will most likely be ready for a “Big Kid Cleaning”. The appointment will include removal of plaque and tartar, polishing, flossing and application of topical fluoride as determined by cavity risk. The dental exam includes a thorough head and neck examination of your child’s teeth, gums, and bite including x-ray evaluation as needed. Radiographs (x-rays) are taken only as cavity risk necessitates. A hygiene assessment evaluating the effectiveness of at-home brushing and flossing will be conducted along with any necessary oral hygiene instruction in an age appropriate manner. Cavity risk assessment is conducted and recommendations for diet, oral hygiene, and fluoride options will be discussed in detail.
The First Visit: Parental Involvement
Parents are encouraged to accompany their child to the treatment area for their initial visit. This gives you the opportunity to see our team in action. We do ask that you assume the role of a silent observer when possible. Often, if more than one person is speaking to the child at once they may become confused. Your presence is greatly enhanced if you play a passive role. This will also help us establish a closer rapport with your child while building his/her confidence.
After the first visit you have the choice to accompany your child or to have them come back alone. When you feel the time is right, allowing your child to come back alone builds autonomy and trust between our team and your child.
If any treatment is diagnosed at the appointment, we will review any available radiographs and thoroughly discuss the treatment plan and treatment options with you. Our patient coordinator will then discuss the financial aspects of your child’s treatment and review your dental benefits as needed. We will then schedule an appointment to complete the treatment for a later date.
Loose tooth and a cavity