Before Your First Visit
When preparing for your visit, help your child associate dental visits with positive aspects. Explain that visiting the dentist is a part of growing up that will keep their teeth healthy. Tell them that the dentist needs to look at and count their teeth.
Do NOT tell kids that the dentist won’t hurt because they might have never associated the dentist with pain. Hearing that it won’t hurt may make them fear the possibility of pain. Don’t mention any words that could be scary for them, such as needle, drill, or pull. Most kids do well during their first visit if they have positive thoughts beforehand.
What to Expect During Your First Visit
Please arrive early to your visit to give yourself time to fill out the paperwork. Bring your insurance information with you. Be sure to discuss any of your child’s medical concerns with us before scheduling their first appointment.
The first visit is a chance for us to build a trusting relationship with the patient. Our office recommends that your child’s first dental appointment takes place by the time your child turns one, which is in concurrence with the American and Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. By starting dentist appointments early, we can take extra time to focus on preventing cavities and other dental problems.
We want to ensure that your child’s first dentist appointment is enjoyable for both of you. It’s easy to worry about how they’ll behave, but staying calm and positive is a great way to set your child up for success. Children often fear the unknown, so they may not cooperate at first. Yet, we will be patient and help them overcome their fears so they can leave our business with a big smile on their face.
Ways to Prepare Your Child for Their First Visit:
- Tell your child the dentist will count their teeth and make sure their teeth don’t have any “sugar bugs” (cavities).
- Read them picture books about going to the dentist.
- Avoid scary words like “needle,” “drill,” “pinch,” or “shot.” If those words are necessary for a procedure, we will use different words that convey the message without sounding frightening to kids.
- Refrain from phrases like, “don’t worry, the dentist won’t hurt you.” They might not have considered pain before, so hearing those comments could spark new fears.
- Keep explanations brief. Kids may ask what will happen during their appointment, so keep it simple since you may not know exactly what will happen until you’re there.
We look forward to meeting you and your child during their first visit!
First Procedural Visit
We strive to make procedural dental visits welcoming and worthwhile. It’s common for kids to be afraid of unfamiliar situations, so we are trained to handle fears and anxiety to put our patients at ease. Luckily, pediatric dentistry has evolved in many ways. Thus, we are always honest, but reassuring to keep your child comfortable and relaxed during their appointment.
During the Procedure:
- You can come to the treatment room with your kid, but we kindly ask that you stay quiet so we can earn your child’s trust.
- Please let the dentist do all the talking during the appointment. This helps your child focus on only one person so they don’t miss important information.
- Our team will explain to your child exactly what they’re doing. Please let your child make their own observations about how the procedure feels.
- Don’t assume that upset reactions indicate pain. There are many reasons children worry or cry during a procedure beyond not enough freezing. Loud noises, keeping their mouth open, sitting still, or general anxiety could all cause a child to act distressed.
- If you’re anxious about your child’s dental treatment, it may be best to stay in the waiting room or have another guardian go in with them. Children may be able to pick up on your anxiety, which will only worry them more.
What We Say During Appointments
We strive to have clear, simple, and age-appropriate conversations with children. We choose to avoid some traditional words and replace them with our dental vocabulary instead. We kindly ask that you communicate with your child similarly to help their visit be as successful as possible.
Some words we avoid include needle, shot, drill, pinch, pain, and hurt. Instead, our office has its own pediatric dental vocabulary to get the same message across, but in a pleasant way that won’t worry a child.
|Traditional Words||Our Version|
|Drill||Whistling toothbrush that sprays water|
|Pull tooth||Wiggle tooth|
Here are some phrases we may use, depending on your child’s age:
- “We use a water-spraying toothbrush to wash sugar bugs away.”
- “We catch water and sugar bugs with a vacuum.”
- “Sugar bugs can leave a tiny hole in your tooth.”
- “We fill/paint the hole so no new sugar bugs come back.
- “Sometimes we use sleepy juice on your tooth so you don’t feel anything.”