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Helping Your Child's First Dentist Appointment Go Well

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Are you the parent of a young child? Do you need to take him or her in for his or her first dental appointment, but you're not sure how to prepare your child? Going to the dentist for the first time can be a little scary for a toddler but is important for his or her future dental health.  Here are some tips to help your child get ready for the big day:

Make up a new game: Turning your child's dental visit into a game can help to eliminate or alleviate many of his or her potential fears. Start by buying some dental tools to play with. These can be actual toy dentist equipment or, if you don't have the money for an expensive playset, check out your local dollar store for things like popsicle sticks or small mirrors for looking in the mouth. The idea is to get your child used to the idea of having someone look in his or her mouth. Let him or her look in your mouth for a while, then you look in his or her mouth. When it's time for the two of you to visit your pediatric dentist, he or she should be much less intimidated by someone looking in his or her mouth.

Turn a dental visit into treat time: Find a dentist for children who will let you and your child sit in the lobby for a few minutes, even if you don't have a dental appointment. Start visiting the office with your child for a few minutes every day, starting a week or two before the appointment. After sitting in the office for a while, take your child out to get pizza, give him or her a sheet of favorite stickers, or otherwise reward him or her for visiting the dentist's office. Your child will start to associate visiting the office with fun times, helping to eliminate any anxiety that he or she might otherwise have. 

Let your child choose a special outfit: When going to visit a dentist, you probably want to make sure that your child looks as nice as possible. However, as long as your child is bathed and otherwise clean, your dentist shouldn't care what he or she looks like. Arguing with your child over what to wear to visit the dentist will likely put both of you in bad moods, potentially making the visit even more difficult. If your child wants to wear a cowboy hat and a tutu to the dentist to accentuate their outfit, along with mismatched shoes, the whole day will run more smoothly if you allow this than if you spend an hour arguing over wearing "proper" clothes.