Take the Fear out of Dentist’s Visits

Regular visits to the dentist’s office are necessary for keeping teeth healthy and promoting good oral hygiene. But a trip to the dentist can be scary for kids. The unfamiliar surroundings, people, and instruments can be overwhelming and frightening. However, your child may visit the dentist at least ten times before ever starting school, so it makes sense to make these visits as easy and fun for your child as possible.

Start Early

Take your child to visit the dentist by his or her first birthday, and continue going on a regular schedule for cleanings and checkups. This way your child becomes accustomed to the routine and also has a “dental home”. If there is an emergency, your child will already be familiar with the dentist and the dentist will already be familiar with your child’s dental history.

Keep It Simple

You want your child to know what to expect, but avoid including too many details. Talking about things like possible fillings or extractions can raise more questions and fears than necessary. Be positive and relaxed when talking about the dentist, but don’t say things that might not be true, such as telling your child everything will be fine or that he or she won’t get any shots. If a filling or other treatment is necessary, your child may lose trust in you.

Watch What You Say

Don’t use words like “shot,” “hurt,” or “pain” when talking to your child about the dentist. Keep your vocabulary positive. Try telling your child that the dentist is going to check his or her smile and count his or her teeth, or make sure all the teeth are clean, strong, and healthy.

Have a Pretend Visit First

Use a toothbrush and a handheld mirror. Let your child pretend to be the dentist and clean his or her stuffed animals’ teeth, or yours. Let him or her pretend to be the patient while you pretend to be the dentist, using the toothbrush to count his or her teeth and holding up the mirror for your child to see how the dentist might check his or her teeth. You can also read a children’s picture book together about going to the dentist.

Don’t Bribe

A small toy or sticker as a reward or surprise might be helpful, but avoid bribes such as “if you don’t cry, you can have a new toy.” Such bribes may make your child wonder what there will be to cry about! And avoid offering sweets as rewards; doing so undermines the dentist’s message of good oral care. By taking the right steps now, you can set the stage for your child to enjoy a lifetime of good dental health.

Call us today to schedule your child’s first visit or routine dental checkup at Children’s Dental World!