Luke and Chloe’s First Trip to the Dentist (and tips how to make it a positive experience)

Luke in the dental chair

Last week Luke and Chloe had their first dental appointment.  They were quite excited (unlike most adults I know, including me) about going to the dentist, as they had gone many times before when Matthew or I had appointments – so they were familiar with what it was and what happened there.

We see Dr. Evans at Evans Dental Health, a holistic dentist, having switched over to his office a couple of years ago. Dr. Evans is a mercury and fluoride free office and believes that the health of your mouth and teeth are directly related to your overall health. So things like nutrition, supplements and detoxification are available/ discussed in this office.

The staff were great, smiling and friendly from the moment we arrived, the dental hygienists getting down to their level and interacting with them. Luke and Chloe are very go with the flow and fairly adaptable kids, but Luke still turned to me when the hygienist invited them to come with her, and asked me to come along. It’s nice to know as a parent that they still need you.

Chloe was the first to go and hopped up into the dental chair. The hygienist, Holly, explained everything to her as she went along, starting right from the bib that they got to use right down to the dental tools. She explained everything in a fun and engaging way for a child. Chloe was very interested in what she was saying and not only followed direction but already had her mouth open ready for Holly to look at her teeth.

Luke went next door with his hygienist, Salena and had a very similar experience with her explaining things to him as she went and engaging him the whole time. Luke also opened his mouth and kept it open, looking like a little bird, waiting for her to check his teeth.

A child’s first visit to the dentist is a very short visit, with a couple of basic things happening. The appointment is simply to get the child comfortable with the experience and learning what to expect. They tell the kids what’s going on, explaining everything as they go, then they count how many teeth they have, give them a quick polish, if the child lets them, then the dentist comes and takes a peek. That’s it, fairly quick and definitely painless.

Most dentists recommend that your child start coming to the dentist as early as 1 year old or within 6 months of their first tooth coming in. When I asked our dentist they said at about 3 years old – which makes more sense to me. I think as a parent knowing the recommended guidelines, you can decide when is the best time to take your child.

At the end of the appointment both Luke and Chloe got little bags of goodies that contained a new Firefly toothbrush and some flossers. Luke got a whole container of dental floss, which unfortunately was completely unraveled by the time we got home. And they also got a trip to the ‘treasure chest’, which I loved going to when I was a kid and went to the dentist, it was the best part! They chose mini lip balms, which were also destroyed and well used by the time we got home. Chloe just kept putting it on her lips (and it also ended up all over her face). Luke just played with it after one application and I found it in pieces on the floor of the van.

Overall though they had a wonderful, positive experience and were very excited to tell Daddy what they did that day.

If it’s time for your child to take their first trip to the dentist here are some more tips to make their first experience a positive one:

  1. Pick a caring, friendly dentist that makes your child’s first visit a special ocassion
  2. If there is an opportunity, prior to your child’s first visit, let them observe a family member during an appointment. This will help them become familiar with what happens.
  3. Avoid instilling anxiety in the child just tell them they are going to the dentist and leave it at that.
  4. Select an appointment time that is best for the child, usually for young children first thing in the morning is best.
If you can create a first positive experience for your child it will make future trips to the dentist positive ones as well. Even as an adult I don’t enjoy going to the dentist, it’s because I have to hold my mouth open so long and the sound of the drill really gets to me. (If I didn’t have to hear that sound it might be ok) so the more you can do for your kids to make the dentist a positive experience the better. Both Luke and Chloe had a ‘good time’ and I know I will have no problem when it is time to go again.
Dr. Evans does a Candy Buy Back each year at Halloween, where he gives $1/ lb of candy to the kids. We go each year and I think it’s a fabulous idea. Go to his website to find out more.


A Horribly Healthy Halloween – Tips for Sugar Free Halloween

sugar free halloweenSince eliminating sugar from our diet holidays have taken on a very different look for our family (yet we still enjoyed pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving! -sugar free of course). There is so much sugar and sweets that come with each holiday that it can be challenging to get around. The key is to find alternatives that meet the child’s needs without making him feel different or like he is missing out.

Halloween is no exception, in fact I would venture to say that it is the worst holiday connected to candy and treats. I remember Matthew asking me shortly after we eliminated sugar if he would be able to go trick or treating for Halloween. Thinking ahead, I already had an answer for him and told him yes he would be able to and then I told him the plan.

These are the things that we will be doing this Halloween to ensure it is sugar free and still enjoyable.


Tips for a Sugar Free Halloween

Go to a Candy Buy Back (or do the Switch Witch)

sugar free halloweenMatthew will go trick or treating this year but he will take all of his candy to an event called the Candy Buy Back, put on by a local dentist here in Calgary. It is the day after Halloween and they give the kids $1 for each pound of candy that they bring in. They have all kinds of prizes and they wear their Halloween costumes again.

We have done this for the past couple of years and he uses the money he receives to buy a book. So he still gets to participate in the “main activity” of Halloween and get something that he wants and is able to have.

Now some people may be upset by this as they go out and spend money on candy to give to kids and then they go and sell it. I do see their point but it is a choice and once you give it away who knows what happens to it. You could buy something else that is non candy and give that out (and people are starting to do that), decide not to hand anything out, or be ok with it. If we as a society want things to change then it has to start somewhere and the method may not be preferred but at least it is a start.

Have a Healthy Fun Supper

sugar free halloweenThere are also other things that you can do to eliminate or reduce the amount of sugar your child ingests this Halloween. Nina Manolson of Healthy Yummy Kids, suggests that for supper that night you prepare a full healthy meal that the kids will enjoy with a nice healthy yummy sweet at the end (you can make the cookies, cakes and treats without the sugar- check out some of my sugar free recipes). I take it one step further and make it a fun Halloween themed supper. This is basically taking healthy foods and getting creative and making them spooky. In the past we have done Monster Face Pizzas, Monster Brains and Skeleton Veggie tray.

This will not only satisfy their craving for sweets but they will also feel full, and therefore when offered candy to eat, they won’t eat it because they are not hungry. (Nina also suggests this strategy for afterschool outings and birthday parties).

Attend a Halloween Community Event

sugar free halloweenIt is also important to remember that there is more to Halloween then just the candy; there are many events and activities around it. If you look at the history of Halloween it originally had nothing to do with candy -it is society that has added the “treats” over the years.

When attending an event, the kids still get to dress up, and there are usually games, crafts and other activities. There are many special events in the community (for instance in Calgary, we have the Boo-roofic Bash, Ghouls’ Night Out, Haunted Houses, etc). There are dances and classes that you can wear your costume to with other activities. Yes there are likely candy and sweets available but there are more to these events than the treats and it is easy enough to skip the treats if you choose to.

Decorate your Home for Halloween

There are loads of Halloween crafts that the kids can make and then use as decorations to put up. You can also add in things like Halloween soap dispensers and towels, spider webs on mirrors, a graveyard and skulls in your front yard. You can get really into this (just check out Pinterest for great easy ideas!) That is all part of the fun and demonstrates another fun aspect of the holiday that is not candy related. My son is already asking me if we can put out the Halloween decorations (and has been since September).

I feel that Matthew will have a very enjoyable and healthy Halloween this year and I don’t think that he will feel like he missed out at all. It really is easy to do and I encourage you all to give it a go yourselves. You will eliminate all those wired and moody kids the next morning!

As for the twins, we dressed them up last year, but did not go trick or treating. So they are familiar with the event and love to dress up! We might take them out this year to a few neighbors, and we’ll contribute their candy at the Candy Buy Back, because for them it is all about the costume!

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