A trip to the family dentist can make even the bravest adult a bit anxious. So, it’s no surprise that many children are also intimidated by the dentist’s chair. The strange, sterile environment and unusual tools can make any child nervous about getting their teeth checked. Fortunately, there are measures you and your dentist can take to prepare your child for a visit to the dentist.
What are the Benefits of Regular Kids’ Dental Care?
Many parents will often avoid booking dental appointments for their young children because the struggle is too overwhelming. Although this may seem like a quick solution, depriving your child of regular check-ups at an early age is actually doing more harm to their oral health in the long run.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Dental Association recommends that a child’s first dentist visit take place at the eruption of the first tooth. Introducing your child to the dentist at a younger age will help make the experience less intimidating and reduce dental anxiety. As the child gets older, they’ll feel less frightened because they’ve become more familiar with their dentist.
How to Explain the Dentist to Your Child
When preparing for a dental procedure, especially their first dentist appointment, try not to include too many details – trying to explain a cavity filling, scraping, drilling, shots, and so forth may cause unnecessary anxiety. Here are some other tips that can help them feel more comfortable with the idea of going to a pediatric dental office:
- Use positive language, avoiding negative words like “pain” and “shot”
- Read children’s books that are dentist-related
- Explain that Dentists are the “Good Guys” – children need to know that dentists are superheroes for their teeth
- Play dentist! Pretend you are the child’s dentist and act out what’s going to happen at their exam and gentle cleaning
- Ask if you can schedule a tour at the office to help familiarize your child with the setting for an upcoming appointment
How Do I Make My Child More Comfortable at the Dentist?
Using these steps will help your child overcome their fear and anxiety of the dentist and make it an enjoyable experience:
- Bring a familiar stuffed animal
- During the appointment, try to be encouraging, giving them praise for each step along the way
- Be there – being physically present during your child’s first dental visit goes a long way in ensuring they feel confident and safe
It is also important to have reasonable assumptions about your child. During the visit, some children may open their mouths willingly and enjoy the experience, while some will not. However, with preparation and sticking to a schedule on a regular basis (usually every six months), each dental treatment will get easier and more enjoyable.
Pediatric Dentistry at Smile Solutions of Maine
Taking your child to the dentist regularly is essential to maintaining healthy teeth and good oral hygiene. At Smile Solutions of Maine, our dental team works hard to provide our patients with a warm, caring environment that makes them feel welcome and ensures they have a positive experience at their new dental home. Contact our dental clinic today to schedule your kid’s dental appointment.