How to Prepare Your Child for Their First Dentist Visit
Dental care is one of the most challenging parts of parenting. No child wants to spend precious time in their day struggling to brush their teeth. In most cases, this period is often coupled with inevitable tantrums. Eventually, the result is either a scheduled or emergency visit to the dentist.
Like adults, children’s teeth require proper care to keep them strong and healthy. Dentists also help your child develop good oral hygiene habits. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children have their first dental visit no later than their first birthday. Early visits can keep your child’s oral development on track. If it’s your child’s first visit to the dentist, it’s essential to prepare them physically and psychologically. Here are a few ways you can help prepare them.
Choose a Happy Appointment Time
The time you select for the appointment is quite crucial. Apart from choosing the appointment when the child is in a good mood, you also want to make sure that there are no other kids’ appointments on the same day. Children are likely to read the mood in the room when they hear other children cry every time they enter the dentist’s room. You can book your appointment after a meal or nap. When children are hungry, tired, or sleepy, they are likely to be less cooperative, which can affect their appointments.
Studies show that children mimic adult behavior. They can read the excitement, sadness, and other emotions from those around them. So if you don’t like dentist visits yourself, don’t show it in front of your child. Be careful with your words and avoid words such as “pain” and “needle”. Instead, focus on positive phrases about how dentists help build healthy, strong teeth. Avoid phrases like “it won’t hurt” or “don’t be scared.” Introducing such phrases can create a negative impact on your child. When explaining what dentists do, be sure to use simple words such as a “fun chair” or “happy lighting.” This helps your child to visualize the visit positively.
Practice at Home
Before the appointment day, play dentist-patient with your child. You can also allow them to be the dentist and use a toothbrush to clean their toy’s teeth. You can use a mirror and a small torch to show them how dentists check their teeth. This helps your child have a clear understanding of what will happen when they visit the dentist.
Watch Videos Together
Find pictures of children in the dentist’s room and show them to your child. You can also check dentists’ videos to help them better understand what dentists do. Make sure the pictures and videos are not graphic or scary. The child in the video or image should appear happy or having fun with their dentist.
Bring their Favorite Toys Along
It’s always prudent to bring their cheer squad along to make them feel comfortable, safe, and relaxed. If they have a favorite pet, toy, or stuffed animal, bring it with them. You can get several just in case they ask for them or throw tantrums.
Let your children see you brushing and talk to them about the importance of brushing their teeth. Be positive and confident to avoid passing down your fears or worries to your child. Stay calm and relaxed during the wait, and you just never know; your child might end up enjoying their dentist visit.
Don’t forget to reward your child every time they brush their teeth. Let them know that you will treat them to their favorite snack after the dentist’s visit if they behave well. They will be more inclined and motivated to stay calm to receive their reward.