How To Help Your Child Love The Dentist!
How To Prepare Your Child For Their First Visit
You may have wondered when to bring your child to see the dentist and how to prepare them for their first visit. Here is our guide to help you through their first dental visit without a hitch.
The first thing to remember is that dental offices are more ‘kid-friendly’ than when you were a child. For many, dental visits were a scary experience. Luckily, times have changed. At Putney Dental Care, we aim to make the overall experience easy-going, fun and enjoyable.
If you have a phobia of dentists or have previously had bad experiences, it is important not to let your little ones see this. Remember to keep things positive and encouraging. Avoid saying things like “I don’t like going to the dentist either, but we need to do this”, this makes the dentist seem like a scary place. Instead focus on the positives.
When should they visit the dentist for the first time?
Start bringing them to the dentist at an early age. We recommend that you schedule your child’s first dental visit when they are around 3-4 years of age. At this age we are able to fully interact with them and make their first dental visit enjoyable and relaxed. This will also give them a ‘home’ for any of their dental work ranging from their 6 monthly preventative appointments, to any dental emergencies they may have. Having a simple check-up as their first visit to the dentist will help them familiarise themselves with the dentist and to make the appointment a positive experience – remember, first impressions are lasting impressions!
Don’t wait until there are signs of something going wrong before bringing your child to see the dentist for the first time. Coming to see the dentist early can help us to catch any potential problems, before they develop into a toothache.
If you are able to, bring your little one along with you or their older siblings to other dental appointments, so that they get comfortable being in the dental office.
What to expect:
· Their first visit will be short but sweet.
· Your child may be nervous (there may even be some tears), but it is important for you to remain calm and encourage your child.
· We will check their teeth and gums.
· We may or may not clean their teeth. We want their first visit to be a ‘happy visit’. If your child is anxious or nervous, that’s fine. We will try again next time.
How to prepare your child:
· Make sure that you brush their teeth at least twice a day. This way not only are their teeth well looked after and good dental habits are being formed, but they will also get used to someone looking in their mouth.
When brushing their teeth, explain that you want to help the dentist to keep their teeth clean and to keep all of the ‘sugar bugs’ away.
· Play pretend. Pretend that you are a dentist and your child is the patient. Switch roles so that they can practice being a dentist as well. This is a fun and interactive way of building a positive mindset towards going to the dentist.
· Let your child bring a special friend along (like a stuffed toy), we can even check their teeth too!
Never use the dentist as a threat!
It is easy to try and overcome your child’s resistance to brushing their teeth or curb their sweet tooth by using dental visits as a threat, but this will only increase your child’s anxiety about appointments. This anxiety can also follow them into adult hood, making them less likely to keep regular preventative appointments and can cause major repercussions on their oral health.