While a child’s first dental visit might make them a little nervous, there are a variety of things you can do to help prepare them. By doing a little prep work, your little one won’t feel as anxious and may even see the visit as a fun trip. The great part is the right dentist can help make this a memorable visit your child will look forward to next time.
1. Explain What the Dentist Does
Ideally, try to wait until the week or even the day before the first dental visit to explain things to your child. The longer your child has to wait before the appointment, the more anxious they might be.
When you do explain things, do it simply. For example, tell your child the dentist checks their teeth and helps them have a healthier, happier smile. You can even use children’s books and videos about the dentist to help them better understand the concept.
2. Let Them Bring Their Favorite Stuffed Animal or Toy
Children might not want to go in alone. Some pediatric dentists will actually let the parent sit nearby to help soothe an anxious child. But, your child likely has a favorite stuffed animal or toy they like to hold to feel more comfortable. Ask your dentist if it’s okay to bring it along. Then, your child can hold it throughout the visit to feel safer and more confident.
This is especially important if you’re taking in your child around their first birthday, as they’re not old enough yet to understand an explanation from the dentist. The AAPD recommends starting as early as one year old or when the first tooth appears.
3. Play the Dentist Game
Pretend play can make your child’s first dental visit much easier. You’ve been to the dentist for years, so you know what to expect. Grab a few popsicle sticks and a child’s toothbrush and pretend to be a dentist. This helps show your child what the dentist will be doing. This also gets them more comfortable with someone messing with their mouth.
4. Stay Positive About the First Dental Visit
It’s common for adults to feel nervous about dental visits, even if they’ve never had a bad experience. However, no matter how you feel about it, don’t let your child hear you say anything negative. The more positive you are about going to the dentist, the more excited your child will be too.
5. Promise a Reward
While sugary rewards aren’t recommended for obvious reasons, promise your child a small reward for being brave during their first visit to the dentist. This could be a simple toy or going to their favorite place, like a park.
Make the first dental visit for your children a good one by picking a dentist specializing in oral health for kids. See how Avon Dental Care makes going to the dentist fun and easy for kids.