Could we call it a milestone? I believe it could definitely be categorized as one. Your child’s first dentist appointment. Most dentists will start happy visits around 18 months of age in which I took our dentist up on the happy visit for my oldest daughter M. I really believe, it helped play a part in her adjusting so well with the dentist and sitting in the dentist chair. What exactly is a happy visit? This visit is no cleaning involved. It is just a visit that let’s your child get associated with the dentist and all the dental equipment. They will show you how you should be brushing your child’s teeth and then usually end the visit by letting the toddler pick a really cool prize with a little dental gift pack.
This seems all great if you choose to take part in the visits but what if you don’t? I did not take part in the happy visit with my youngest daughter. She has had so many asthma and allergy problems and I just kept putting off the dental office as I didn’t want to add anything else to overwhelm her until now. I figured, I better quit making excuses and finally make L’s first dentist appointment. L can be very apprehensive with doctors until she really feels them out and gets acquainted with the surroundings. A week leading up the appointment, I would talk to her about the dentist and why we need to go to the dentist. I would reassure her that mommy would be there every step of the way and would keep reminding her about her super shiny white teeth. I always kept an upbeat and calm voice through all my little talks with her. We also read the book “Does a Lion Brush?”
This book is by a a pediatrician and a child psychiatrist. The book goes into why children should go to the dentist and what happens at the dentist. Very age appropriate for younger kids. We would read this several times leading up to the appointment.
The appointment time was here. We had a few tears before we reached the dental office. I just kept calm and reassuring her that everything was going to be okay. She sat on my lap at first in the dental chair so we could explain all the tools and what the dental hygienist would be doing. I thought all was going well until she started turning pale and said mommy I don’t feel so well. She began to get sick and almost passed out on me. We got her to lay down and put a cool wet cloth on her forehead and still kept calm all throughout this. I went back to the dental chair with her and the dental hygienist was so gentle with her and talking very calmly. Each step was taken with extreme patience and gave L time to warm up to the idea. L finally was able to lay down in the chair.
Each time the dental hygienist would do something new, L would sit right up in the chair to see and ask what the next step was? The hygienist took her time all throughout the appointment to explain ever step so carefully. The appointment went so smoothly the rest of the time and L is still talking about how the dentist is a good place so she can have shiny white teeth.
The key here is to take things slow. Do not jump in with both feet all of a sudden. It will take time and slow building up for the child to get adjusted to the dental surroundings. Start in advance of the appointment and begin talking about how great a dentist is to our health. Use the book so the child can hear and see at the same time of the dental process.
The most important thing is to keep reassuring your child that everything will be okay during the visit. Thankfully, we can now say that this milestone is now behind us and we are looking forward to the next appointment with no apprehension.