My daughter will turn 4 in a month and a half, and she can finally spit. So, when I scheduled my checkup, I scheduled her first checkup too.
My dentist is not a pediatric dentist. In fact, I've been going to this dentist for more than five years, and have never seen a child or teen in the office. But my dentist, her dental assistant, and her receptionist were all great with my almost-four-year-old.
I didn't want my daughter to be scared of going to the dentist. I wanted to make it a field trip. I told her she was going to get to be a Junior Dentist, and that she was going to get to help examine my teeth. A couple of days later, a box from Amazon arrived. She asked what was inside, and I told her to guess. I told her it was something she needed to be a Junior Dentist. "A white coat?!" She guessed right. I know my child. There was no way she was going to buy that she was a Junior Dentist if she didn't have a lab coat.
I made our appointments for 9:00 a.m. - early - when my daughter would be in a pleasant mood.
The dental assistant let her follow him in and out of the room as he took my x-rays. In. Out. In. Out. She thought that was great fun; you should have heard her giggle. During my checkup, my daughter got to sit up on a chair next to me. The dental assistant and the dentist answered all of her questions - about the tools, about the foot pedal for the chair, about the cleaning process. She got to vacuum my mouth, which also made her giggle.
Then, it was her turn. My dentist explained everything she did before she did it. She sprayed air on my daughter's hand, before spraying the air in her mouth, and she touched my daughter's fingernail with the dental pick, before putting the pick in her mouth. Then, the dentist asked if my daughter had a spin-brush at home, and explained that the dental assistant was going to use a spin-brush to brush her teeth. Finally, the dental assistant gave my daughter the choice of bubblegum or cherry flavored fluoride gel (my daughter chose bubblegum), and had her wear a tray with a tiny bit of the gel in it. He explained that if she needed to spit, she could just put her hand up, and he would put the tiny vacuum in her mouth. She didn't love the fluoride gel treatment, but she didn't complain, and she followed the dental assistant's instructions.
The best part? No cavities! Now, that's something to smile about. :)