There is no denying the importance of oral and dental hygiene in children and adults alike. Dental health problems can quickly spiral into some serious health conditions. Thus, when it comes to children, you must take them for regular visits to the pediatric dentist. The dentist will ensure your baby’s smile and teeth are healthy. They can examine if the baby’s gums and teeth are growing healthily and point out any dental problems early on.
But your kid’s first visit to the dentist can pose some challenges for you, as kids don’t know what will happen and what it will be like. Even most adults are afraid of the dentist, so it’s understandable that kids can be hesitant, too.
Here are four tips for preparing your child for their first dental visit.
- Choose a Pediatric Dentist:
You might consider taking your child to your family dentist, but the best option here is to choose a pediatric dentist for your child. When it’s your child’s first visit to the dentist, you need to ensure that they get the best care possible. Pediatric dentists have specialized in treating kids of all ages, from infants to adolescents. Pediatric dentists undergo specialty training for two to three years after dental school, focusing only on treating children.
To find the best pediatric dentist for your child, simply Google “top rated pediatric dentist near me,” and you can choose the top-rated dentist from the search results. Your child’s first visit to the dentist will set the tone for upcoming visits, so you need to make sure that your child and you, as a parent, will get the most comfortable experience possible with the dentist. And pediatric dentists have experience working with children, so they can understand your child’s fears and feelings better, and they know how to get kids relaxed and encourage them to take care of their dental hygiene. Pediatric dentists are also better able to check kids with special needs.
- Play Dentist:
Keep in mind that till now, your kid has no idea who a dentist is or what it’s like to go to a dentist and get your teeth checked. It’s all a mystery for them till this point. So it’s a great idea to play dentist with them. Children might not listen to you if you lecture them about going to the dentist’s office or dental hygiene, but if you add an element of fun and play to it, they will learn a lot about the dentist. Play dentist with your kid and try to replicate a scene from the dentist’s office by placing a dentist’s chair, using their toothbrush, etc. Use your kid’s stuffed toy as a patient.
If your kid feels comfortable, it’s better to make them play the patient so you can teach them, for example, by asking them to open their mouth wide as you count their teeth, etc. You can also let your kid play dentist and let them check their toy’s teeth. You can also read them some children’s stories about visiting the dentist. That way, they will become familiar with the concept of visiting the dentist and become less reluctant as they will start to view it as something normal.
- Have a Positive Attitude:
If you suffer from dental anxiety yourself, then it’s highly likely that your kid will develop dental anxiety too. That’s why you must exhibit a positive attitude about visiting the dentist. Children pick up the habits of their parents and mirror their attitude. If you talk about the dental visit negatively or in a fearful or threatening way, your children will never want to go to the dentist. Even if you have had painful dental experiences, don’t discuss them with your child, as it will scare them away.
Talk to them about why it’s critical to take care of one’s oral hygiene, like cleaning teeth, tongue, gums, etc. Mention that a dentist will guide them better about ways they can improve their dental health. Thus, mention the dentist in a positive light and as someone who is not to be afraid of.
- Explain the Events during the Visit:
What adds to children’s fear during their first dental visit is the fear of the unknown. Children get very anxious when they don’t know what will happen next and when surrounded by strangers in a new environment. So it’s best to talk to them and explain the sequence of events during their dentist’s visit.
Like, tell them that upon your visit, you might have to wait a few minutes in a room, and there might be other children too. Then you will go to another room where the dentist will check their teeth, etc. Just try to explain things in such detail that they know what to expect. When you prepare them mentally, they are less likely to throw a tantrum and get anxious. You can also bring their favorite book to read while you wait in the waiting room to calm them down.
You will surely face some difficulties when taking your child to the dentist’s office for their first dental visit. Since your kid is going to the dentist for the first time, it’s natural for them to be anxious and hesitant, as they have no idea what it’s all about. However, you can prepare them mentally in advance so that they don’t become reluctant to go to the dentist. Here are four tips for preparing your child for their first dental visit.