Health

Tips to Prepare Kids for Their First Visit to the Dentist

By  | 

An initial visit to the dentist can be daunting for children. Many may be uncertain what will occur and may have heard horror stories from friends about what will transpire.

As with anything new, it is crucial that we prepare our children for their first trip to the dentist. Here are some helpful tips for making them feel at ease in a dental office setting.

Choose the Right Pediatric Dentist

Children are more likely to enjoy their dental appointments if they like the dentist they visit. When selecting a pediatric dentist, make sure you read reviews and speak to other parents about who their kids see.

Reading or watching a children’s book or video about visiting the dentist can also help prepare kids for their first appointment. If they have an item of comfort such as a stuffed animal or blanket that helps ease nerves, bring it along for their appointment so they’re more relaxed.

After your child’s initial visit, it’s a good idea to highlight all the positive aspects. Perhaps remind them that there were no shots or pain involved, that their dentist was friendly and fun, or that they got to see lots of cool dental tools.

Talk Positively About What Will Happen

As children navigate their first dental visit, it’s crucial that parents prepare them early on. Otherwise, their fears and anxiety could increase dramatically; to help your child feel more at ease it’s helpful to discuss positive associations between dental visits and positive emotions such as hurting, paining, shots or needles – they could cause anxiety for all involved!

Children tend to mirror the behaviors and emotions of their parents, so if mom or dad express concerns over visits to the dentist, their children will too. It is essential that adults remain positive when discussing dental appointments with children, offering something fun afterward as an incentive for going.

Role playing can be an effective way to help make things simpler for both of you, so why not put some thought and care into acting out a dental visit together at home? Grab the toothbrushes and handheld mirrors, and act out what could happen during an appointment – for example pretend to brush and count their teeth, or have your child act out their role by pretending they’re the dentist and examine a favorite toy stuffed animal!

Roll Play With Your Child

Anxiety-reducing experiences for children before visiting the dentist can include reading them a book, listening to soothing music, or participating in deep breathing exercises together. You should also ensure your child gets adequate rest before their visit; this will help them relax better during their visit.

Help your child prepare for their first dental visit by role playing at home. Pretend to be the dentist and ask your child to open up his or her mouth wide, count their teeth, and clean them using a toothbrush.

Talk through what will occur at their visit with them, trying to avoid sugarcoating anything that might cause discomfort or fear. Contact the dentist’s office ahead of time and inquire what to expect so your child has an easy understanding.

Read a Few Books About Going to the Dentist

Books and videos can help your child prepare for their first dental visit by visualizing what to expect during their appointment. Books featuring friendly dentists will put them at ease.

Little Critter Goes to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer is one of the best books for preschoolers, following two mice dentists as they treat animals suffering from toothaches in a safe way, answering questions about thumb-sucking and pacifier use as they go.

Stan and Jan Berenstain’s Curious George Visits the Dentist is also an excellent choice, explaining why regular dental checkups are so vital for maintaining healthy teeth as well as offering tips for brushing and flossing techniques.

Bring a Friend

Make their first visit easier by bringing their favorite toy or stuffed animal along, which will provide comfort during their visit to the dentist chair. Plus, bring along books or games to take their mind off it all.

Role-playing with your child can also be immensely helpful. Simulate a visit to the dentist by acting out an appointment, taking turns playing “dentist” and “patient.” This way they’ll get an opportunity to understand what it looks like without experiencing anxiety or fear.

Parents need to remember that their dental anxiety could transfer onto their children, so it’s essential that all discussions about dental visits take a positive tone. Ask the dentist if patient forms can be filled out ahead of time so as to speed things up at your appointment time.

Schedule the Appointment for the Right Time

Children who come prepared to their first dentist visit will likely feel more relaxed throughout and after. At their appointment, they’ll learn about oral hygiene while getting their teeth counted and cleaned – this experience may even prove exciting depending on the child’s age and emotions!

When planning a visit with your child for their initial appointment, try scheduling it when they tend to be in a good mood. This will help manage their emotions and make the process smoother for all involved – typically after napping and eating is best suited.

Once your child’s dentist has examined his or her teeth and gums, they’ll likely give them something for their efforts, like stickers or even new toothbrushes – to make their experience better and encourage regular visits. This is an effective way of making them feel good about going back again in future visits!