Expecting a new bundle of joy? You likely have the nursery decorated and a pediatrician picked out, but have you thought about finding a dentist for your baby? Experts say parents should take their child to a dentist within six months of the arrival of the child’s first tooth or by the baby’s first birthday at the very latest. It’s never too early to start instilling good dental hygiene habits, including regular trips to your Overland Park dentist for cleanings and checkups!
Watts Family Dental typically starts seeing our youngest patients when they’re around three years old. However, your baby’s first experience with a pediatric dentist (one who specializes in treating very young children) should be quite a bit earlier than that.
Infants probably won’t remember their first few trips to the dentist, but how do you prepare older toddlers and preschoolers and make sure that visiting the dentist isn’t too scary for them? You’ll want to keep it simple. Here are some helpful tips to make your child’s trips to the dentist great:
1. Take them with you when you go for your own dental checkups. Kids learn a lot by observing, and if they watch you go to the dentist without a lot of worry or fuss, then they’ll know not to be afraid. If they have older siblings, let them be present for those visits, too. You should set a good example by demonstrating your own good oral care routine, and let your child know that your trips to the dentist are nothing to put off or worry over. Use positive words to describe your visits to the dentist and help your child form good associations.
2. Set up a meet-and-greet. The first time your child goes to see a new dentist shouldn’t involve any “chair time.” Just let your child meet the new dentist and the staff and get to know them a little. When it is time for a real checkup or cleaning, it won’t be as new and scary.
3. Pick up some books on the subject. Reading up on your child’s dental health and what a trip to a pediatric dentist entails will help you to prepare for your child’s first dental visit. You’ll also find books targeted at children that you can read aloud to your kids to help them feel more prepared.
4. Practice with their toys. We said that kids learn a lot by observing, but they learn even more by doing. Encouraging your child to play dentist with a stuffed animal or other favorite toy will not only make him or her feel more comfortable with the process, it will also show that there’s nothing to be afraid of. After all, if Stuffy can do it, surely they can, too!
5. Schedule something fun afterward. A trip to the dentist shouldn’t be something that anybody dreads. One way to help your toddler focus on the positive parts of the day is to offer a reward of something fun afterward. It doesn’t have to be big – and it shouldn’t come in the form of food or any other bribe – but it can be as simple as some time on the playground after the appointment.
If you need a recommendation for a good pediatric dentist in Overland Park or would like to schedule an appointment at Watts Family Dental for your child age three or older, call (913) 338-3384 today!