Up to 20% of adults experience anxiety when going to the dentist. And if the number is that high for adults, imagine what it’s like for a child who has never been to the dentist before. For parents, it can be tough to know how to help your child prepare for their first dental visit. That’s why we’ve created this guide outlining 6 tips to prepare for your kid’s first dental visit.
Keep reading to learn more.
1. Take Them to the Dentist from a Young Age
It’s simple. Exposure will lead to more comfort. So one of the biggest things you can do to help your kids prepare for their first dental visit is to start taking them early.
This will help make this practice a habit for them. As they’re more comfortable with the dentist office, the hygienist, and the dentist themselves, the easier it will be to take them to their first visit.
While you may make a decision based on your specific situation, remember that the American Dental Association recommends taking your child to the dentist before their first birthday. However, if this is too early for your family, start by having your child accompany you to your dental visits.
This way, they’ll see mom or dad in the dentist’s chair, and this will help them feel safe when it’s their turn.
Keep in mind that it’s very normal for your young child to resist sitting still during their appointment. The important thing is establishing the habit of dental care.
2. Keep Things Positive
Next, make sure you keep things positive when talking about the dentist. Simply put, the last thing you should do is make the dentist a scary or negative experience.
Don’t focus on treatments like cavities, fillings, or shots. Instead, talk about the positive side of things. This could include:
- How visiting the dentist often will keep their teeth healthy
- That their dental team will help them get the smile they want
- That going to the dentist is fun because of the movies, toys, and nice people
The vibe that you create will make a big difference in how your kids feel about going to the dentist’s office.
3. Practice Your Kids First Dental Visit at Home
As a parent, you know that kids love to play pretend. Whether they like to cook you food while playing kitchen, be the teacher, or create a make-believe store, play is an amazing tool you can use to help them grow and develop.
You can utilize this tactic with your kid’s first dental visit too. Before their appointment, take some time at home to create a make-believe dental office.
Have your son or daughter lay flat so you can inspect their teeth. Pretend to brush and clean their teeth.
You could even shine a light above them and have them say “ahhh.” This will get them used to the dental experience too.
4. Find a Great Pediatric Dentist
Next on the list? It’s time to find an awesome pediatric dentist that can take care of your child’s teeth.
Start by asking yourself this question. Does it really matter if your kid visits a general vs. a pediatric dentist? The answer is yes.
While they have many of the same skills and training, there’s a crucial difference. A pediatric dentist is required to complete additional training after dental school.
They take courses in child development, psychology, and the specific needs of kids’ teeth. They also have practice in helping children feel calm and understood.
Another tip is to take a tour of the dental office before your child’s appointment. Taking them along with you is a great way to introduce something so new. This way, they’ll be familiar with all the sights and sounds of the dentist’s office.
At Elizabethtown Dentistry for Children, we have years of experience helping kids have great dental experiences.
5. Watch Videos and Read Books about the Dentist
Here’s another idea you can try: help your kids realize that everybody goes to the dentist. Kids everywhere go to the dentist all the time and have great experiences and they can too.
One of the best ways to convey this message is by watching videos and reading books about the dentist with your children. There are all kinds of TV episodes, children’s books, and Youtube videos that can help your kids better understand what to expect.
This way, when you go to their first dental appointment, you can talk to them about how their favorite TV character goes to the dentist too. This can bring them great comfort.
6. Time It Right
Last but not least, make sure to time your visit correctly. All parents know that their kid has good and bad times throughout the day.
Scheduling their visit when they’re hungry or tired is one of the worst mistakes you can make when taking them to the dentist for the first time.
Instead, be sure to schedule their visit at a time when they’ll be comfortable and in a good mood. Also, make sure to avoid giving them sugar or caffeine before the visit.
Final Thoughts on Your Kid’s First Dental Visit
There you have it: 6 tips for having a great kid’s first dental visit. Now it’s time to put these ideas into practice. Soon, you’ll have a kid who’s a pro at going to the dentist.
Ready to schedule your dental appointment? Contact our team today to find a time that works for you.