Updated: Nov 25, 2019
Bringing your child to the dentist for their first visit, can be challenging for the parents and scary for the child. Using these 10 simple how to's, will definitely help prepare both the parent and child for it and create a positive memory instead of a negative one. Having a child be exposed to the dental office while young, first tooth, first visit or finding a dental home by one, will help create normalcy when going to the dentist. The hope is, by being exposed at such a young age, preventive care will be an easy visit as they are growing up because they have been doing it since they were very small.
1. Read your child books about going to the dentist, this is part of the show and tell piece of it. If they can see and hear a story about a character going through the same emotions and still seeing a positive outcome in the end. This will help give the child an idea of what to expect, alleviating some of the unknown factors. Paw Elementary: Roxy's Adventure to the School Dentist, is educational and fun- it shows all the tools and equipment that is used during a normal appointment.
2. Positive reinforcement when brushing at home, I recommend brushing together as a family. I also recommend bringing your child with you for your dental appointment weeks before you go. This way both of these techniques, show the child that mom and dad have to get this stuff done as well. Talking about your past visits with them (All in a positive way) will help build on the normalcy of going.
3. If your child has any plastic toys like a dinosaur for instance, set up a pretend dental office. Show your child what it would be like and let the child, brush the dinosaurs teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste. All while you explain the dental hygienist and dentist will be in there looking and counting their teeth, then cleaning them. This will help them visualize the appointment better and they will have fun brushing the toys teeth.
4. If you as a parent, aren't a fan of the dentist, don't let the child onto it and I don't recommend making jokes about their teeth falling out, or that we may pull them or they are going to have a mouth full of cavities. The negativity is what sticks in their minds and this will create anxiety. Use positive things like, you'll get a new toothbrush, toy, and sticker if you're really good from the dentist.
5. It is important to acknowledge a child's fear. I like to say things that allow the child to create their own thoughts. I will ask, how do you feel about going to the dentist? OR saying, I know you're scared, and that's okay but you're also brave and a big girl/boy. This is for parents who are taking their child when they are a little older and can tell you how they are.
6. Let the dental professionals provide the care without too much intervening. I have found in my 10 years of experience that children will do better when they are with a stranger and won't act out like they might when a parent is there. IF you feel comfortable staying in 3the waiting room, great, if not that's okay too. Just try to take a less hands on approach unless the staff asks for you to step in. I know this can be VERY hard!
7. For parents with more than one child, I always recommend making their appointments together, so the new patient can see their older sibling going through it, right before they do. For them to see a similar aged person doing the same thing, not crying and not scared. Goes a LONG way!
8. Bring a ipad or phone that they can watch their favorite show on while getting their cleaning. This will help them by distracting them from whats going on. Some places will have TV's with children shows playing. But I recommend being prepared, just in case.
9. Have fun with it, try not to make a big deal out of it, while still making the subject a priority. The more they hear you talking about it and what plaque, germs are and having it not just be dropped on them that day. Oh you're going to the dentist today and surprising them. The better it will be received from my experience.
10. Lastly, take your child to a child friendly place, that you know the staff will take the time to make their appointment go well. It isn't all about the child and their reactions, it's 50% of how the provider talks to your child and takes the effort to make the appointment a successful one!