Most of us suffer from nerves ahead of a dental appointment. However, that first experience in the treatment chair can be particularly overwhelming for children. For kids, it’s the fear of the unknown that’s the problem. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to prepare your child for their first trip to the dentist’s office.
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5 Tips That Will Help During Your Kids First Dental Visit
Don’t Pass On Your Dental Anxiety
Many adults hate going to the dentist. If you’re someone who suffers from dental anxiety, it’s easy to pass that on to the next generation. Even if you dread going to get your teeth checked, make sure you’re not broadcasting your feelings at home. Kids follow by example after all, and they’re already going to feel nervous about a new and unfamiliar experience. Acknowledge any anxieties they do have and dish out positive reinforcement where you can.
Let Kids Know What To Expect
Climbing into a patient chair can be a nerve-racking ordeal for little ones. Children might be familiar enough with the doctor’s office, but the treatment room of a dental clinic is a different environment entirely. Many parents draw parallels between the dentist and doctor to help smooth the way for anxious youngsters. However, you should also preempt any problems by giving them an idea of the differences they can expect. If you know your child is going to require any additional treatment, such as time with a dental hygienist, you’ll want to touch upon this as well.
Answer Their Questions
No matter how good a job you do at preparing your child for their first trip to the dentist, they’re going to have questions. It’s best to leave the question and answer session until closer to the appointment itself. This way, any anxiety they develop won’t have time to fester. Talk them through the basic routine of a checkup, focusing on the positives at every step. Younger kids aren’t going to have much context of what’s involved, so be prepared for some role play so they have a better understanding of what lies in store.
Consider Using a Different Dentist
You might have been going to the same dentist for years. However, just because you think they’re amazing, doesn’t mean your child will. Seeking out a specialist pediatric dentist is worth doing if you want to keep tantrums and teeth problems to a minimum. Pediatric dentists undergo extra training that gives them a deeper insight into the dental issues faced by children. They’ll also have plenty of experience with first-time visitors to the dental office, so won’t be fazed by an anxious patient with plenty of questions.
Appointment Times Are Important
Rather than pick an appointment time that works for your schedule, think about your child’s routine and how they behave at different times of the day. Are they bursting with energy and ready for anything in the morning? An early appointment is probably best. Leave it until too late in the day and you’ll probably find yourself dealing with one cranky customer. What’s more, any anxiety they’re feeling about their checkup is going to have time to build.
Building Good Habits
Even if an initial appointment goes relatively smoothly, there’s no guarantee that the next one will be tantrum-free. After leaving the dentist’s office, head to the store and let your child pick out a new toothbrush and some kid-friendly toothpaste. Constant encouragement at home will help your child develop good dental habits. By the time of their next appointment, they’ll be itching to show off their dazzling smile to the dentist.