As a parent, one thing you might be unsure of how your child’s first visit to the dentist is going to go. You might even have your own horror stories about extractions, numbing or an uncomfortable cleaning. The environment filled with odd sounds and unfamiliar objects can be overwhelming to a child. Follow these tips to ensure your child has a positive experience at their first dentist appointment.
Taking your child to the dentist is better sooner rather than later. This allows them to get accustomed to the environment and grow up knowing what to expect when visiting. The president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Rhea Haugseth D.M.D, says that taking your child early establishes a dental home where they can go for routine, preventative care or emergencies if necessary. Take your child to the dentist when their first tooth surfaces.
Simple is Better
Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to prepare your child for the visit. Giving too many details may cause your child to ask questions you don’t have the answer to. Make the appointment and let the office staff handle explanations and questions. They have experience explaining the equipment, processes, and procedures to children of all ages.
Choose Your Words Carefully
Avoid using words that might scare your children such as “shot”, “pain” or “hurt”. These will instantly cause your child to be fearful of the experience and increase anxiety before and during the visit. Allow the staff of professionals, like those at Dentistry for Children & Adolescents, to use their words to explain what is going to happen and how they’re going to do. Positive words such as healthy, strong, and clean can be encouraging to children and make the visit sound like it’ll be a fun experience.
Do a role-play situation with your child. Take turns being the dentist and the patient. Use a toothbrush and count each other’s teeth. Use a small mirror to show your child the inside of their mouth so they can count their teeth too. Let them count your teeth and brush them too. They can even pretend to be a dentist to dolls or stuffed animals. The key to the pretend play is to create a routine to get them comfortable for the actual visit to the dentist.
Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be a scary experience for your child. Prepare them ahead of time with these tips. Preparation is key to a positive experience and start to your child’s dental visits.