How to Prepare Your Toddler for His First Dentist Visit (By Guest Blogger, Jack Kennedy)

 

Can you imagine your toddler sitting perfectly still in the dentist’s chair with their mouth obediently stretched wide open? You are not alone if you think this picture resembles a far-flung fantasy. However, a little preparation goes a long way in making the first dental check-up go as smoothly and as painlessly (we hope) as possible.

Preparing yourself

The early years are anexciting time and full of firsts. When the first tooth erupts, or at about one year of age, is the general recommendation of when your child’s first trip to the dentist should occur.

The first step is to choose your dentist. This may not be your own dentist unless they have experience in dealing with potentially squirming, crying kids. Choosing a paediatric dentist – one who specialises in these yowling youngsters – can be worthwhile. Do your research to see which trustworthy and kid-friendly dental practices are in your area.

Prepare yourself so you can answer any questions your child may have confidently and accurately. Often dental practices will provide you with information about the first dental visit. If not, it pays to ask exactly what to expect. Make a list of any concerns or questions you may have, such as how to choose the right toothbrush. Remember to inform the clinic of any allergies, medical conditions and medications beforehand.

Children look directly to us as experienced adults for guidance and support about how to behave and respond to new situations. Children are excellent at picking up on cues and can sense when we are happy and relaxed or are worried and scared. As their attitude and temperament are likely to reflect your own feelings,continue striving to be a positive role model, laying aside any fear or trepidation you may have. Your child has not yet been given any reason to dislike the dentist, so try to keep it this way.

Talking to your child

Children often learn by mimicking the things we say and do, even if it can get a little tiresome at times. Brushing your teeth together demonstrates good habits at home and is a great way to teach your toddler about oral health. This is an easy lead-in to talking about “going toa special kind of doctor that looks after your teeth”.

Like any new experience, visiting the dentist can be daunting the first time around and can be associated with feelings of anxiety. Knowing what to expect removes some of the trepidation associated with the unknown, as does constant reassurance that you will be with them throughout the entire visit. With young children, use simple and positive language. Tell them exactly what to expect, such as “the dentist will count your teeth” and “the dentist helps us keep our teeth strong and healthy.”

There are many entertaining resources at your disposal to help begin these discussions and introduce your child to proper dental care. Picture books with colorful illustrations about going to the dentist can be read together. Educational toys and models show exactly what their teeth look like and you can practice counting them, just like the dentist will do. Computer animations and other online resources can be both entertaining and informative, ultimately helping your toddler cope with their first trip to the dentist.

Role playing games can be used to great effect to show what will happen at the dentist. A stuffed toy or doll makes for a willing patient to practice on, and your child can act out the roles of both dentist and patient, helping to overcome their fears.

Even trips to the museum and zoo or watching the nature channel is a prime opportunity to promote curiosity and discussion. For instance, compare their teeth to the massive teeth of lions. They will be fascinated!

While at the Dentist

When at the dentist, take toys and books to keep your kid occupied while you wait. Consider bringing a special “going to the dentist book” or (if you are brave enough)having a “going to the dentist song”.Formally introduce your child to the dentist and any nurses so that they become a familiar and friendly face. Finally, planning a reward for afterwards will give your toddler something to look forward to, such as a trip to the playground. That said, try to avoid the use of bribery. Instead, promote the dentist visit as a healthy and positive experience. With these strategies, the next visit will be even easier, so there’s no reason to be down in the mouth!

Jack Kennedy works for Corson Dental, a New Zealand based dental practice specializing in cosmetic and general procedures.

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

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Dear Jack: You Lost Your 2nd Tooth by Eating a Croissant?!

6 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

Saturday morning your breakfast mostly consisted of your favorite croissants from Kroger. I was on the carpet, playing with Holly, when you proclaimed from the kitchen table, “Hey, I think this croissant is going to make me lose my tooth.”

Obviously, I immediately thought that was a strange statement. However, I did recall brushing your teeth earlier that week and you pointing out that your other bottom middle tooth was getting pretty loose.

To my surprise, when I walked over to the kitchen table and took a close look at your tooth, it was undeniable. I explained to Mommy, “Yeah, actually… it’s sticking out like a drawbridge.”

From there, I was assigned to helping you try to pull the tooth. Mommy wet a paper towel for me and I brought it over to you. “Don’t pull it too hard, Daddy…” you warned.

I assured you all I would do was just barely tug at it.

And that’s all I did. I pulled no harder I would pull a Kleenex from the box.

But the tooth immediately popped out with just that easy, tame, and thoughtless little tug.

“What?! It’s already out!” I yelled over to Mommy, who was holding your sister at the kitchen counter.

So that’s how it happened. I can truly say that was the easiest tooth that I have ever seen pulled.

A croissant! Not an apple. Not anything crunchy.

But instead, one of the softest textured foods a person can eat; maybe only second to cotton candy.

That tooth must have been really loose before you ever ate that croissant… obviously. But still, there wasn’t an ongoing conversation about your tooth being loose, like there was for your first tooth you lost back in April.

Still such a strange surprise.

Oh well, at least you also made a quick 3 bucks off the deal too.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Lost Your 1st Tooth… and So Did the Tooth Fairy!

6 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

Last Thursday as I drove you to school, you told me, “Daddy, my tooth is starting to hurt a little bit now when I wiggle it.” I told you that was a good sign you’d be losing your first tooth pretty soon.

When I got home that evening from work, Mommy immediately called you over to me.

You then announced: “Daddy, look! I lost my tooth!” You held up a clear plastic bag, containing your little white trophy inside.

This is amazing to me, as it was such a quick process; not long and drawn out over several weeks like it was for my first tooth. There was no need for me to tease you about scenarios in which I might have to tie a string to your tooth on one end and then to a door knob on the other, then slam the door, causing your tooth to be jerked out.

None of that was necessary. It was just so simple and subtle with your first tooth.

Not to mention, you’re not even 6 and a half yet; still in Kindergarten. From what we can remember, Mommy and I were in 2nd grade.

As I got you ready for bed that night, you explained you would rather place the tooth on your night stand, not under your pillow. I had no issue with that.

What you didn’t explain, however, was that for some reason, you decided to place the tooth on top of the plastic bag, instead of inside of it. Don’t ask me how I know this, but the tooth fairy just picked up the bag from your night stand, leaving behind the tooth; along with 5 one dollar bills.

Once the tooth fairy realized that the tooth had been left behind, the tooth fairy had to crawl on hands and knees in the dark in an attempt to locate the tooth, assuming it had fallen into the carpet. Fortunately, the tooth was still on the night stand somehow.

Your first tooth was lost in more ways than one!

Love,

Daddy

I’m Mr. Clean When It Comes to Personal Hygiene

Cleanliness is next to obsessiveness.

Danny Tanner was OCD about cleaning his full house.  Howie Mandel is insane in dealing or not dealing with germs.  As for me, I am obsessed with feeling clean and fresh in regards to my own body.  If I had to go a full day without taking a shower, brushing my teeth, or clipping my fingernails (they grow very fast; I have to clip them every five days), then it would pretty much ruin my day, like a canker sore.

I keep an extra toothbrush, toothpaste, and pair of nail clippers with me at work.  As well as in my car.  Heckler from the crowd shouts out: “Well you better get used to feeling dirty!  That baby of yours is going to be puking and peeing on you every day…”  But that’s different.  To me, that’s more of an external situation.  I’m obsessed with the internal.

What I get on me, I can clean off and be okay with.  It’s what comes out from within my body that bothers me.  Knowing that sweat is constantly slowly seeping out of my skin and that bacteria in my mouth begins festering again the minute I finish brushing my teeth.  Yikes.

And truthfully, this obsession has a lot to do with my extremely strict diet which is based around “clean eating”.  The way I see it, the foods I put in my body either make my insides cleaner or dirtier.  It’s typically hard for me to eat a big greasy hamburger because I imagine the liquefied, digested fat leaking out my pores.  What a nightmare.

Surely everyone is at least a little bit OCD somehow when it comes to cleanliness.  This is mine.

Here's something else I keep at work. It's that important...

*Unnecessary ethic information: Both Bob Saget and Howie Mandel are Jewish.