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What Parents should expect for A Child's first Visit to the Dentist



Throughout a child's life, parents have a big impact on how their childen react in different situations. A child's first visit to the dentist is a moment that can determine how the child will perceive medical staff in the future. A negative experience at the dentist can cause a child to dislike going to the dentist for the rest of their life. The following paper will explain the parent's role in a child's first dental visit and inform the parent on things to expect from the dental office.First, the parent should decide when they will plan to take the child to the dental office. The first question most parents contemplate is what age should a child visit a dentist for the first time? Depending on who is anwsering the question, one could receive a few responses. Some dentist believe that between the ages of 2.5-3, parents should have a discussion with children about the dentist"(Egher). Meanwhile, others feel that a child's first visit should take place about six months after the first tooth appears. ("Know Your Teeth"). Ultimately, it is up to the parents to decide when they will take the child to the dentist for the first time.

Next, after the parent has established when the child will visit the dentist, it is time for the parent to prepare the child for the visit. A few things a parent could do to prepare a child for a trip to the dental office would be: read a book about going to the dentist, play dentist with the child, and relate one of their favorite cartoon characters with the dentist. The parent can choose from a wide range of books for kids by visiting the library, browsing the internet, or stopping by a pediatric dental office. Reading a book with positive images of the dental experience can help a child feel comfortable(Inglehart). Tania Egner, a Registered Dental Hygienist, speaks of role playing when she recommends, "You can play with your child at home- you being the dental hygienist and your child being the patient"(Egher). The goal is to make the experience seem positive and fun for the child so they enjoy going to the dentist. Although there are a few things the parent can do to make sure their child feels comfortable, there are things the parent can do to have the opposite effect. The parent should not be anxious because the parent's anxiety can be transferred to the child. The parent should also avoid using terminology that could have a negative interpretation in a child's mind. For example, experts from Dentistry for Children explain "By all means avoid using words like 'hurt,' 'drill,' 'x-rays,' or 'shot'("Dentistry for Children").

Dental Terminology
Don't Say Safe to say
Needle or shot Sleepy water
Drill Whistle or water toothbrush
Drill on tooth Wash tooth
Pull or Yank tooth Wiggle a tooth out
Decay, cavity Sugar bugs
Examination Count teeth
Tooth cleaning Tickle teeth or brush teeth
Explorer Tooth counter
Rubber Dam Raincoat
Gas Laughing gas/Happy air
Pain/Hurt Discomfort
(Hawkinson, Lopez, and Thomas)

Also,the parent should chose a dental office that would be the most compatiable with the child. Parents should look for an office with a fun environment for the cildren; also, make sure the staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and professional. It is equally important for the parent to scout the dental office for cleanliness and sanitation. When chosing a dental office for a child, it is highly recommended to visit a pediatric dentist. One assistant admits, "The dentist will be prepared to deal with any squirming or hollering in the dental chair, and there will be a waiting room filled with distractions such as kids books and toys("What to Expect").

After the office has been chosen and the appointment has been set, it is now time for parent and child to keep the appointment. It is important that the appointment is maintained but if the child is not able to make the appointment, the parent should be courteous and call to cancel. Maintaining the appointment is important because some offices have rules for missing appointments(Neese-Todd, Stanley, and et al). For the initial consultation, it is advised to arrive twenty minutes early due to the information that needs to be gathered. Parents are advised not to let the child have caffeine or sugary fods before the visit. The receptionist will provide the parent with forms to fill out that will become part of the child's clinical records. A child's clinical record will include: medical hystory form, clinical examination form, registration forms, and all necessary forms. After the paperwork is completed, the child will meet the dental assistant and head to examination room. The assistant will get the child involved in the conversation and use this time to become familiar with the child and the parent. The assistant will proceed to take the child's vital signs. After the vital signs are taken, the dentist enters and he or she will do everything to make the child comfortable. The dentist will conduct an examination which consist of; checking for cavities, assessing any flouride needs, and cleaning the teeth.("CityPlace Dentistry"). Following the examination, the dentist will discuss any oral hygiene instructions with the parent. The dentist can also determine if the child is in need of orthodontic care.(Inglehart). The dentist will also discuss any childhood habits such as thumb sucking, pacifier use, and etc.("Discovery Pediartric Dentistry").

Finally, after the dentist is finished, the assistant will walk the family back to the front to see the receptionist again. This portion of the visit is dedicated to the insurance and financial obligation between the parent and the dental office. Afterwards, the child and parent can relax and celebrate making it through the first visit to the dentist.