Scheduling your child's first dental checkup with a pediatric dentist is an important early step in the child's health, as establishing the foundation for a proactive approach to dental care at an early age can reverberate throughout the years ahead. That all-important first visit should happen around the time of the child's first birthday or within half a year of the child getting his or her first tooth. Given the child's young at age the time of this checkup, some children can get fussy about the new environment and unfamiliar events. With a little preparation, you can help to get your child as ready as possible for meeting the dentist. Here's how:
Practice At Home
Although you won't be able to exactly mimic the nature of the checkup at home, you can go a long way toward making your child feel comfortable with the idea of visiting the dentist. Make a fun game out of getting your child to lean back and encourage the practice of opening his or her mouth as wide as possible. You can then use the child's toothbrush to go through the process of inspecting the child's teeth and giving them a brush. These steps will make getting into the dentist's chair and opening the mouth seem more familiar, which can help your child feel more at ease.
Get Some Help From Books
Many children's authors have tackled the process of visiting the dentist in their books, giving children an enjoyable way to gain confidence about this new process. Find such a book at your local library or bookstore and slip it into your child's reading list. You don't have to make a big deal about it; children are adept at remembering what they're read, and a book that presents dental checkups in such a positive light will help to increase your child's confidence and familiarity about the checkup.
Get There Early
Pediatric dental clinics have a variety of attractions to capture the attention of children, including books in the waiting room, a play area and other things to see -- some offices even have small aquariums for the children to enjoy. It's ideal to get to your appointment early to allow the child to settle into this new environment instead of rushing in and going straight to the checkup. Although there's no set amount of time you should give yourself, getting there early enough to allow your child to check out the age-appropriate attractions can help instill a sense of calm.