Preparing your Toddler for a Visit to the Dentist

Oct 25 2013

toddler brushing teethA child’s first trip to the dentist is a major milestone but many parents dread it because they don’t think their child will respond well. Fortunately, there are ways to prepare your toddler for her first visit to the dentist so that it’s a good experience for everyone.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children visit the dentist for the first time before one year of age or within 6 months of the time the first tooth appears. I’ll admit I’m a bit behind on this with my 16 month old but we’re currently preparing her for her first visit.

My boys have always LOVED going to the dentist. With. A. Passion. The hygienists always laugh at how excited they get. It’s almost like Christmas morning. I’m hoping my daughter feels the same way.

We’re using the same tricks we used with my boys to prepare her for her first visit to the dentist office and we’re hoping to pave the way for many great visits in the future.

Start Developing Good Brushing Habits Early 

As soon as that first tooth pops through you can begin developing good brushing habits. At first, I like to use a soft, wet washcloth to wipe teeth clean. As your infant gets older, you can switch to an infant finger brush and eventually move into a soft bristled toothbrush. My daughter loves brushing her teeth so that hasn’t been a problem but we are working on getting her used to having the toothbrush in all parts of her mouth, even the areas that don’t currently have teeth.

toddler brushing teeth

Practice Sitting Still

Sitting still is not something most toddlers enjoy. Have your toddler practice sitting still while you brush her teeth. Start with having her sit for only a few seconds and work up to longer periods of time. This will make it easier for your toddler to sit through an exam at the dentist’s office.

If your toddler cannot sit still, or seems nervous at the dentist’s office, see if your dentist will allow your toddler to sit on your lap during the exam.

Find a Great Pediatric Dentist

One of the best things you can do when it comes to your toddler’s dental health is to find a great pediatric dentist. We all know that kids just don’t react the same way as adults so having a dentist that understands your child’s needs and can make going to the dentist a good experience is essential.

Schedule your Toddler’s Dentist Appointment After Nap Time

Toddlers are much happier if you catch them after a nap. Be sure and schedule your toddler’s first dental appointment during a time when she is going to be at her best. This will make the appointment less stressful for your toddler (and for you).

Read Books About the Dentist

There are many things in a dentist office that are unfamiliar to toddlers. Reading books about going to the dentist can help your toddler become familiar with the tools that a dentist uses and the things that may happen during her appointment.

We love Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer and The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan and Jan Berenstain.

toddler brushing teeth

How do you prepare your toddler for her first trip to the dentist? 

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