You've scheduled an appointment, and it's almost time to see the dental hygienist in your area. But, the appointment isn't for you. It's for your child. Not only is it for your child, but it's the first time she's going in for a teeth cleaning. What do you need to know before your child sees the hygienist? Check out these tips for making the appointment easier.
Talk It Up
It's possible that your young child is feeling anxious about her upcoming appointment. Why? Probably because she's afraid of the unknown. You've been to the dental hygienist before, and have a lifetime of experiences to talk about. Okay, so you may have had a few not-so-pleasant times at the dentist's office (getting cavities filled or having a deep gum cleaning). Now is not the time to talk about those. Focus on the positive, talk-up your visits with hygienist. Tell your little one a story about a time when the hygienist was particularly helpful or went out of the way to be nice. This will help to reassure your child and may even get her to look forward to the appointment.
Schedule with Care
Take a look at when the appointment is. Did you make the appointment for the first time available or did you work around your child's day? Obviously, you can't bring your kiddo in while you're at work or when she has tot art class already on the weekly plan. You also need to pay attention to what she does during her day – every day. Avoid scheduling the hygienist appointment during naptime or directly before naptime. These are the times when your child is most likely to be cranky and uncooperative. Also, keep meals in mind. Try not to schedule a cleaning during her regular mealtimes. Sure, she can wait a few minutes to eat. But, if the hygienist is running behind or your child has a procedure (such as a fluoride treatment) she might not be able to eat for a while. This equals a hungry, not-so-happy kiddo.
Role Play the Visit
If your child is still feeling unsure (even after you've told her about your positive experiences), role play the visit. Start by taking on the role of hygienist. Have your child sit in the chair (use your couch or an arm chair as an imaginary dentist's chair) and conduct a pretend play appointment with invisible, imaginary tools. Next, switch roles and let your child play the part of the dental hygienist in this at-home scene.
The first trip to the dental hygienist doesn't have to be filled with tears or fears. From talking about the visit to role playing what it will be like, you can help your child to feel more comfortable about going to the dentist's office.