I recently took C for his first trip to the Dentist! I had a lot of questions. How did he do? Why did you take him so early? I am so nervous to take my toddler to the dentist, what can I do? I’m going to share with you my tips with you, on taking your toddler to the dentist.
C did amazing at the Dentist. He let them count his teeth and take a (quick) peak at his lip/tongue ties. He didn’t want to sit still for long, or wear the glasses/bib. But he was only 14 months at the time. The dentist was able to take a peak at what is going on in his mouth and that’s really what matters. There are a few things that we did leading up to the appointment I believed helped our experience. Note that every toddler is different and what worked for my toddler, may not necessarily work for yours.
1. Make Their First Dentist Appointment EARLY
Many Dentist’s recommend you take your child for their first appointment early. This way they can become familiar with the office, the Dentist themselves, and are used to someone looking in their mouth. It varies from place to place, but many Dentist’s want to see your child around their first birthday or 6 months after the first tooth has erupted.
This one can be a little tough for a number of reasons. Mainly, going to the Dentist is NOT cheap especially if you don’t have dental coverage. But these appointments when toddlers are this little are relatively affordable because they’re really not doing that much. (C’s appointment was $50). Call Dentists in your area and explain your situation: that you want to help your toddler get used to the dentist but you don’t have dental coverage. Sometimes if you don’t have insurance, the fees can be a little lower since there is no administrative (insurance) portion to your appointment. Depending on your location – there are sometimes programs geared toward funding dental visits.
The longer you wait to take your child to the dentist the more difficult it may be.
2. Brush Teeth as Soon as They Erupt
Many toddlers are not a fan of having their teeth brushed – which is why you need to ensure that you are doing it consistently from the beginning so that they can get used to it. Finger tooth brushes are great for babies with teeth and allow you to easily brush their teeth. As your child becomes a toddler and more independent, consider purchasing a toddler safe toothbrush to allow them to participate in teeth brushing.
Make teeth brushing more enjoyable by singing songs, taking turns, and brushing your teeth together. While it is important that your child get’s their teeth brushed, you want to avoid restraining them in order to get it done. If you get your child used to having their teeth brushed early on, they are less likely to refuse. On days that my toddler really resists a tooth brushing, I usually just move on and make sure to either try again later OR get a really good brushing in next time.
3. “Practice” Before the Appointment
In the days leading up to C’s appointment, we practiced getting him to say “ahhh” and counting his teeth. When it was time for the Dentist to count his teeth, he was OK with it because we had been practicing. A huge part of the fear of the Dentist is that toddlers (along with many of us) aren’t used to having someone look/feel inside their mouth. The new environment is scary, a new person is scary, and them doing new things is scary. While there wasn’t much we could do to prepare for the new environment/new person, we were able to prepare C for having his teeth counted. When the Dentist said “say ahhh”, C immediately opened up!
4. Let Them Watch You
Let them watch you in the Dentist chair first. Even if it’s not a real appointment, seeing that Mom / Dad are not afraid of the Dentist can help lesson some of your toddlers anxiety. We did this and found that it really helped!
5. Make the Environment Comfortable
Bring your toddlers favourite stuffie, book or blanket with you. Allow your toddler to sit on your lap in the chair if that is what they like. Ask the Dentist to put on a cartoon that your toddler likes or play their favourite song. Something I didn’t do (but will next time) is bring my toddlers sunglasses. He didn’t like the one’s at the dentist because they weren’t familiar, but I bet if I had his personal one’s he would leave them on. Familiar and favourite items will help alleviate some of the anxiety of the new environment.
I hope you found these 5 tips helpful in preparing for your toddler’s first trip to the Dentist! Do you have any tips to add? Let me know down below. Until next time, xo.