According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, kids should have their first checkup by as early as age one.
Now, if you're like most parents, you've probably put off your little's one appointment for as long as you can. The fear, the fits, the stress of it all — it can be too much to take!
But don't worry, your toddler's first checkup doesn't have to be a total nightmare.
Here are some ways you can prepare your toddler for their first dentist visit and avoid all of the fuss.
Bring Them with You to Your Appointment
You likely know that toddlers love imitation. Your little mini-me might follow you around the house, replicating your every move.
It might seem like they're doing it to be cute (it works), but imitation is actually how young ones learn ! This is a huge plus in your favor.
Put yourself in their shoes: A strange doctor is coming at your face with a bunch of sharp tools. What's not to be scared of?
But by letting them see that the dentist is nothing to be afraid of, you can let them know that the dentist is a friend, not someone to fear.
Practice Good Dental Hygiene at Home
Good habits start in the home.
Showing them that you're not afraid of the dentist is one thing, but teaching them to establish lifelong dental hygiene practices is even more important.
A toddler's teeth are sensitive and prone to decay as it is. Not brushing their teeth or teaching them about dental care could lead to weakened enamel or cavities.
Describing the dentist's office might seem like a good idea, but it can cause more harm than good. Especially if you use words like hurt or pain.
Still, you'll want to prepare them for what they should expect. Using their innate love of play is a great way to do so.
Start your game of dentist by letting your child be the patient. Inspect their teeth, talk about brushing, and discuss let them ask questions.
Then, when it's their turn, be a good patient. Reiterate the importance of good dental care and have them check your mouth.
Playing dentist is a fun, stress-free way to help your child get over their anxieties.
Pick the Right Time
If you've ever dealt with a toddler who missed nap time, you understand that schedules are everything. Don't forget to account for this when scheduling an appointment with your pediatric dentist.
Pick a time when your child has energy and is well-rested, so they're less likely to be cranky. Early morning or mid-afternoon (post naptime) tend to work best.
Preparing for Your Toddler's First Dentist Visit
Your child's first dentist visit doesn't have to be a total nightmare. In fact, by following these tips, it might even be a pleasant experience.
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Written by Tammy Jones for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.