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How To Prepare a Child for a First Visit to a Pediatric Dentist
Despite a parent's own feelings about the dentist, it is important to make sure that a child's first visit to the pediatric dentist is a comfortable and even enjoyable one. The best way to ensure this is for the parent to prepare themselves, the child and the dentist.
What to expect at a pediatric dental office
Half of preparing for a first dental visit involves knowing what to expect. Unlike adult dental offices, pediatric dental offices boast fun and exciting environments that are specifically designed to appeal to children. Parents can help little ones become familiar with an office's surroundings ahead of time by going online and taking the child a virtual tour. Most pediatric dental websites also feature pictures and bios of the dentists, dental assistants, hygienists and other office staff, which serve to help children become familiar with the care team.
In addition to providing child-friendly environments, pediatric dentists also take specific actions to ensure children are comfortable and relaxed in the office. For instance, the first visit is typically nothing more than a meet and greet in which dentist and parent can gauge the child's reaction to the new environment. During that visit, parents can also inquire as to the dentist's qualifications, special training, degrees, professional associations and distinguishes and honors. The right pediatric dentist will be willing to be as transparent as possible to put both parent and child at ease.
Preparing for the first visit to a pediatric dentist
The child is not the only person who must prepare for the first dental visit. Both the parent and the dentist should take advance measures to ensure the child's first visit is as comfortable as possible.
How to prepare a child
First and foremost, a parent should schedule the first visit early in the morning, when young children are well-rested and most alert. If a child is a toddler or school-aged, the parent should discuss the visit with the child and briefly cover what a normal dental visit entails (teeth cleaning, x-rays, etc.). If possible, a parent should pick up a book or two regarding first dental visits to read to the child beforehand.
How to prepare oneself
If a parent has questions or concerns about the visit, they should discuss those concerns ahead of time and not in front of the child. This is especially true if a parent experiences dental anxiety or dental phobia. A parent's job is to remain a calming presence while the child undergoes routine dental care.
How a pediatric dentist can prepare
Dentists also need to prepare for each child's visit, which parents can help do by providing the office with a complete medical history of the child. A parent should also warn the dentist about the child's unique traits, such as stubbornness, hysteria, defiance or fearfulness, as this will help the dentist better manage adverse reactions.
A child's first visit to the pediatric dentist is a momentous occasion. Parents can help make it a good one by taking the proper steps to prepare the child and ease them into the situation.
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