While you probably aren't anticipating any problems when your child goes for an early check-up, toddlers can surprise you. You know that the appointment is likely to be a formality – after all your child hasn't had much time to develop problems with the few teeth they have – but your child may have other ideas. Sometimes, toddlers simply refuse to open their mouths for their dentists. What can you do if this happens?
Is Your Child Messing About?
Toddlers can be mischievous at times. Your child may simply think that it's a fun game not to open their mouth when they're asked to. If your child is going through a stubborn phase, they may refuse to open because they aren't currently doing what they're told.
If you have a firm voice, then now is the time to use it. A few stern words from a parent may be enough to convince kids to open up if they are messing about. If this doesn't work, then your dentist may have a go; however, bear in mind that your dentist is trying to build a long-term relationship with your child and won't want to scare them.
Is Your Child Overwhelmed?
If this is the first time you've taken your child for a check-up, then they may be a little confused by all the new things they encounter in the clinic. If they haven't met your dentist before, then they may be a little shy. The chair, lights and instruments may be a bit overwhelming. If your child doesn't understand what is happening, then they may clam up to be on the safe side.
Your dentist is likely to have a better idea how to handle this than you do, so let them take the lead. For example, your dentist may slow things down and try to make things more comfortable for your child. They may use some of the following tactics.
They may try making the chair seem exciting by showing your child how it changes position and then inviting them to take a ride. If this doesn't appeal to your child, then your dentist may switch to examining your child on your lap.
Another options is chatting to and playing with your child so that they relax. For example, your dentist may play teeth counting games, which will hopefully encourage your child to let the dentist count their teeth. Or, your dentist may be able to take sneaky peeks at your child's teeth by making them chat or laugh.
Don't worry if your child doesn't get comfortable enough to open their mouth this time. Dentists have a lot of experience of working with reluctant kids. Your dentist may simply recommend that you ease into formal appointments more slowly, so your child can get used to things.