Having a child means being present for a variety of firsts. You'll witness their first time at the pediatrician, first time they eat solids, first words, and first steps. You'll be there when they get their first haircut and, yes, the first time they get their teeth cleaned. That initial dentist visit isn't the most thrilling of milestones, sure, but it's one nonetheless. And while we all hope for the best, there's really no way of knowing how that appointment will go. That's why I asked moms to share how their child’s first dental visit went. I mean, it can't hurt to prepare as best as humanly possible, right?
I’ll be totally honest: I have yet to take my child to his first dentist appointment. It’s on my list of Important Things To Do This Year, though. No really, I promise. I know I'm a bit behind, but I also didn’t want to force my child into a situation that might've been too scary, too soon. I know some parents take their little ones the minute they pop out a tooth, while others wait until the child is older and better able to understand what’s going on. In the end, we all make the best choices we can for our individual families, and for me, that meant waiting to take my kid to the dentist.
But that doesn't mean I haven't wondered, rather intently, what that first appointment will be like, for both of us. I mean, the dentist isn't exactly a "hot spot," and more than a few adults consider it the seventh circle of hell. So, how do kids handle it? I asked moms to share how their kid's first visit went down and, well, here's what they had to say:
“It went a lot smoother than expected, considering he wasn't even 3 yet and we had to wait over an hour because the dentist was dealing with another patient who had an emergency. When we finally got to see them, they had him sit on my lap facing me and then he laid his head back towards the dentist. He got checked out and all was good.”
“My kids love the dentist. All three went before they turned 4. [Our daughter] was a little scared at first, but afterwards she grew to love it the most. The doctor gifted her a Barbie doll. Her face lit up after it was over.”
“My kid hates the dentist. He screams and cries and it's pretty much impossible to get him to cooperate. A real treat, let me tell ya.”
“We had ours just last week! My son is 1.5-years-old, and one of his first words was ‘teeth’ because he loves brushing his teeth (also known as chewing on the toothbrush, sucking the water off, with occasional brushing motions mixed in)! He was hardly thrilled. Sat in the chair with me, but didn't want to open his mouth much. The hygienist was able to get the little mirror in, but then [my son] wanted to get down. They said we should try again in six months.”
“My son’s first visit was just a couple of weeks ago. He’s 4. He’s always been very attached to me, so I’ve never pushed him to do something like this without me or another adult present. Our difficulties in finding a dental office that embraced having children accompanied by an adult clearly delayed his first visit.
And it was well worth it. The place has a therapy dog! The dog is in a large play space with an enormous window for kids to see (as well as the dog). The children’s play area is sized only for children (so probably no taller than five feet) and it’s shaped like a dog house. My son, while nervous once it was time for his cleaning, was quickly put at ease by the patience and kindness of the staff. The cleaning area is one large, open space with several chairs, so kids don’t feel alone.
After I did all the paperwork, which happened to include methods of calming for me to initial with my permission (like praise, holding hands or back patting, giving prizes, etc.), they invited me, my daughter, and my mom to join my son. With a little hand holding from us and some jokes from the dental hygienist and dentist, he’s been begging to go back ever since.”
“My son went for the first time when he was 2.5-years-old. He talks all the time. Like, incessantly. The appointment took forever. He told the dentist his damn life story. They thought it was hilarious. Me? I have to live with him.”
“My daughter was 2 when she had her first appointment. She was a hot mess. She just sobbed and sobbed and her nose ran. We explained what the dentist was doing, but she wanted no part of it. My son was 1.5 at his first appointment, and was chill. He just sat back and opened his mouth and watched Paw Patrol on the in-room tv.”
“I had to hold [my son] down with all my strength, as the dentist held him with my son’s head in his lap, prying his mouth open. You could hear his screams all over Brooklyn as the dentist merely counted his teeth. That was the extent of the visit but my son acted like it was a root canal. Traumatizing (for both of us). He was 1 at the time.”
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