Success! Your Teen’s First Solo Dental Appointment

So your little one is not so little, and they get to visit the dentist all by themselves! Up until now you may have even been in the room during their dental visits, perhaps with your own list of questions about their teeth. The time has come, though, to hand over the reins to your teen and let them brave the world of navigating their dental health. Equip them for success with a few simple tips (and remind them one last time to brush before their visit), and you’ll be on your way to having one less thing on your to-do list. Ready?

Simple Tip #1: Teach them some dental terminology.
You have a lot more dental history behind you than they do, so when you’re in the chair at the dentist’s office, you kinda’ have a feel for what everyone is talking about. So, equipping your kids with a little bit of dental terminology before their visit can help ease the comfort of their visit, and ensure they walk out with an understanding as to what the dental team is recommending. A few good ones to start out with are: sealants, bonding and a type of filling known as an inlay or onlay. Also, make sure to include a little bit of insurance terminology in your lesson, terms like deductible and Flexible Spending Account (FSA) are good things for kids to become acquainted with before a visit. And, knowledge about insurance will benefit them for the rest of their lives, right? Many adults don’t even know all the ins and outs.

Simple Tip #2: Make sure they have all that they need for the visit.
If you do have dental insurance, make sure your teen has their own copy of the insurance card. If you don’t, your teen may be required to make a payment in-office, so it’ll help if they have a checkbook, cash, or credit card (after you’ve decided who will be paying for what), so that they won’t be caught off guard by the request.

If they’ll be driving or taking public transportation, map out the route with them beforehand and discuss ways to make sure they are on time. A great idea is to also suggest that your teen has the dental office’s number in their contacts to call if they are lost or running behind.

Lastly, do they have a mouth guard or Invisalign braces they need to bring? Give them a gentle reminder, and then leave the rest up to them.

Simple Tip #3: Don’t scare them.
Often, parents like to remind their children what dentistry was like when they were young. But young minds have a great capacity to imagine (and not in a good way when it comes to dental work!). So hearing horror stories about the sound of a drill or the pain of a root canal won’t help. Instead, reassure your teen that dentistry can often be an entirely pain-free experience – especially as a teenager. And assure them that they can always ask their dentist questions if they have any concerns. That said …

Simple Tip #4: Remind them to ask questions!
Most teens will have questions about their teeth, especially as it relates to cosmetic concerns. Assure your teen the dentist and the whole dental team is there to help. Is your teen interested in teeth whitening or braces? Have them ask about options. Are they afraid to schedule that filling appointment? Have them ask about the filling process so they know there’s nothing to worry about.

In a nutshell, the more your teen knows beforehand, the better. This way they can stride into their appointment feeling prepared, responsible, and grown-up. And, they can stroll out with all the information you’re going to be asking them about, and the payment all squared away. Look at that newly minted grown-up… how inspiring!

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