Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Preparing Toddlers for Their First Dentist Appointment

Going to the dentist has always been traumatic for me. A shot or two of Novocaine didn't numb me like it did other people. As a kid I would tell the dentist I could still feel what he was doing; I don't know if it was because I was young and he thought I was "just saying" it hurt, BUT IT HURT! It hurt and no one would do anything to fix it. As I grew older, I just didn't want to go to the dentist anymore. In my late 20's I found a dentist that listened to me. I had to have a wisdom tooth removed; it took 13 shots of Novocaine to numb me, a few hours later I was back to normal. I get sick to my stomach can't sleep at night scared when I know I have to go there! 

Of course when you have kids, you want to take all of their hurt and fears away the best you can. I will do everything I possibly can to make sure they take good care of their teeth and make sure they have the best experiences they possibly can when going to the dentist.  

Both of my girls started teething early. As soon as I saw the first bit of white poke through their gums (about 5 months old for L), we began brushing. I honestly think brushing this early has helped us, as we don't have any issues with brushing, no battles, no arguments about it (at this point anyway, I just hope this continues)!
They make toothbrushes for 3+ months as well as training toothpaste. We would sing songs while brushing. I got a couple of tooth brushing song ideas from the internet. But their favorite, is one I made up. We still sing sometimes while we are brushing. I would tell them that "I am brushing the sugars out of their mouth. If I didn't get the sugars out, those sugars would work on their teeth and make cavities." As they learned how to count, before we would brush, they would open their mouths and I would "count how many sugars they had" before I brushed. They would do the same to me. They had to let me brush their teeth good, then they could brush their own. L would tease me and tell me that I missed a sugar (she, to this day, says this every time we brush). 

When reading about taking little ones to the dentist for the first time, the recommended age ranges from 2-3 years old for their first visit. I was planning to go when M turned 2 and L turned 3. As I had been taking good care and there wasn't any known issues. 

The beginning of December 2012, L was running in our bedroom. No sooner then I said, "You need to stop running, you're going to get hurt," she fell and hit her mouth on the corner of our bed. Our bed is a very large, wooden king size bed and there is a dent in the wood where she hit her front left tooth. She cried for a bit and of course, told me her tooth hurt! Within a week her top front left tooth was visibly darker than the rest of her teeth. That was my cue that it was time to call to make their appointment. 

I called several dentists before I found the one that I was comfortable making an appointment with. I was so surprised to hear that some dentist WOULD NOT LET THE PARENTS GO BACK WITH THEIR TODDLERS! I wasn't okay with that at all. Multiple receptionist that I talked to tried to tell me that doing it this way was better. Maybe better for some, but NOT FOR ME OR MY KIDS! I found one that would let my go back but wasn't happy with the call itself. The next phone call I made was the one I chose. She didn't rush me off the phone, she answered my questions, I could go back with my kids AND my little one could go back with me and watch the big one for her appointment! SCORE! 

I called in December, our actual appointment wasn't until February. Randomly in the previous months, I had been telling both girls that we were going to have to go to the dentist soon. That there are doctors for everything. We talked about their pediatrician, the ENT (when M was having so many ear infections, the eye doctor (when L had to get her eyes examined) and that the Dentist was a doctor for their teeth. Once the appointment was made, we didn't talk about it every day, but a few times a week. 

I tried to prepare them for every part of the appointment (as best that I could). The "big cool chair" that moved up and down, the dentist would have pointers and tools that they had to look inside their mouths to tell them what a good job they were doing taking care of their teeth and getting the sugars out! I explained to L that they may want to take a special picture of her hurt tooth. 

They were ready for their appointment and they were actually excited.

My next post will be about their actual appointment.

How are you/did you prepare your little ones for their first dentist appointment?

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