For many children, going to the dentist is a scary experience, especially if it’s their first time. It’s intimidating not knowing what the dentist is going to do or say. While dentist trips can be stressful for young children and their parents, it shouldn’t be avoided. In fact, it’s recommended to take babies in for a check-up as soon as a tooth comes in, often way before their first birthday.
To ensure the appointment goes smoothly, there are steps parents can take to prepare their baby. Below, we review the best ways to prepare babies for the dentist.
Read Books About The Dentist
When your baby is under a year old, they’re not going to understand if you try to explain step-by-step what to expect at the dentist. Even for children who are 2 or 3-years-old, all of this information can be overwhelming and hard to process.
A better way to explain what a dentist is to your baby is to choose age-appropriate books. Pick up a book or two from your library that talks to babies and toddlers about the dentist. They’ll feature photos you can use to illustrate what a dentist’s chair looks like and how you have to open your mouth wide.
Read the book several times leading up to your baby’s appointment to help them become familiar and comfortable with the concept of a dentist.
Show Baby Around The Clinic
It’s a great idea to go to the dental clinic early to explore it with your baby. This will help familiarize your baby with the environment and make them feel more comfortable.
Drop in a few minutes before your appointment, so you can walk your baby around the waiting room and even the dental chair, so long as you’ve been given permission. Consider calling the clinic ahead of time to ask them to accommodate.
Most dentists will be happy to take their time with a new, infant patient and will allow them to see the tools and explore the room before beginning the exam.
Bring A Comfort Item
It’s completely normal for your baby to feel stressed during the appointment. They may even cry if they feel too overwhelmed or scared. It’s a wise idea to bring an item that will help calm your toddler down and bring them comfort.
Pack a bag with a few of your baby’s favorite things, like a stuffed animal, blanket, or toy. Ideally, it’s something that will distract them without interfering with the appointment.
Stay Right Beside Them
It’s normal for parents to be by their child’s side during dental appointments, especially the younger they are. During your baby’s first appointment, you may even want to sit in the chair yourself and hold them in your lap.
At the very least, prepare to be attentive to your child as the dentist evaluates their teeth. Hold their hand, rub their back, or distract them with a toy – anything that will help keep them calm and relaxed during the experience. Make sure you’re not distracted by things like your phone or another child.