The younger your child is when you first take him or her to the dentist, the better—not only for getting early preventative dental care for your child but also for helping your child get used to visiting the dentist on a regular basis. If you’re taking a young child to the dentist for the first time and think he or she may have some concerns about going, read on for tips in helping them be as comfortable as possible going into the visit.
Keep It Low-Key
A dental visit is often simply routine, so it usually isn’t anything to make a big fuss about. How you approach and talk about your child’s upcoming dental visit will prompt him or her with how to anticipate and respond to the visit as well, so be sure to talk about the dental visit calmly and with a more coolheaded tone. Even promising a reward after going to the dentist is something to be careful of; this alerts to your child that a dental visit is something to be endured rather than enjoyed.
Watch Your Vocabulary
Dentists, and pediatric dentists in particular, often adapt the jargon they are using around children so as not to alarm or confuse them. You could be doing the same when talking to your child about a visit to the dentist. For example, instead of mentioning a drill, talk about a “super fast toothbrush,” or instead of talking about a shot that will inject a sedative, refer to it as “sleepy juice.”
Don’t Make the Dentist the Enemy
Your child’s view of the dentist should be a positive one. After all, it is a dentist’s job to make your child’s dental health a top priority. So when talking with children about the dentist, be sure to help them understand that the dentist has their best interests in mind and wants to work with them on maintaining healthy gums and teeth. This also includes not using short, seemingly harmless threats such as, “Stop eating sweets before dinner, or else the dentist is going to have to fill all of your cavities.” Going to the dentist should be seen as a fun experience, not as a punishment.
Bring Your Child with You to Your Appointment
Your child looks up to you, and your example may be the very best way to prepare your child for a dental visit. Consider taking your child with you to your next dental visit so that you can show him or her just how comfortable a routine dental check-up can be. If you choose to do this, be sure that you yourself remain as calm and collected as possible. With any luck, your child will mimic the same behavior at his or her own dental visit.