An upcoming visit to the dentist is not something most of us get excited about. Some of us have negative past experiences involving pain and discomfort. A young child, however, doesn’t know what to expect and this mystery element can make it both a scary and exciting event. In order to ensure a happy first-time experience for your child, it is important to prepare them for what could happen. It’s imperative to introduce the concept of dental hygiene early on so that they’re in familiar territory when they first visit the dentist’s office. Let’s discuss key steps in how to prepare your child for a dental visit.
Introduce Dental Routines Early On
Oral hygiene is best taught early to children. There is a higher chance of them understanding its importance in their daily routine and making it a regular habit. Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing at least once, and using mouthwash as needed are all good habits to teach your children.
Watch Videos or Read Books About Going to the Dentist
Children idolize the characters they regularly see on screen and are fascinated by anything associated with them. Try to find a relevant movie, cartoon, game, or book based on their hero character. For example, this could be a book with a story revolving around the character’s visit to the dentist. Favourite children’s characters like Curious George, Peppa Pig, and Dora the Explorer all have books about visiting the dentist.
A favourite character’s positive experience of dental hygiene can quickly get your child to eagerly anticipate their own visit to the dentist!
As with anything worth the wait, it’s important to be patient with getting your child accustomed to daily oral hygiene and regular trips to the dentist. There may initially be a bit of reluctance and hesitation. However, with a bit of explanation about the entire process and how important and ‘grown up’ it is, you can calm their fears and doubts.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Children are very perceptive to everything that happens around them and they are excellent imitators. By talking about an impending dentist visit in a positive manner, you can help them take the first step in understanding the value of dental hygiene in their lives. Refrain from using negative language in front of your children. For instance, don’t talk about fear or pain as these can create unnecessary stress and anxiety.
You need to reinforce the fact that dentists are their friends who are at hand to help their teeth get stronger and healthier. Use easily understandable language and positive terms like ‘strong teeth’, ‘healthy gums’, and ‘friendly dentist’. Don’t offer promises of rewards for coming along to the dentist as this could create a negative association in their minds about dental visits in general. Be forthcoming with offering praise for positive behaviour.
Put Them At Ease
Calm your child’s fears and nerves before a dentist’s visit by offering them an insight into what to expect. Show them videos or take them on a tour of their dentist’s clinic prior to their visit. It helps them get familiar with their surroundings and the nurses and staff who will assist them during their actual visit.
Schedule Their First Dental Visit Wisely
The first impression is the lasting one. Make sure you schedule your child’s first dental visit when they are freshly awake from a good nap, had their meal, and are attentive. Children can be fussy and less cooperative when they are tired and hungry. The situation could worsen with tantrums being displayed if they are especially anxious about their visit.
A dental appointment need not be a scary event for your child if you have trained them to observe good oral hygiene on a regular basis. Regular brushing of their teeth and dental flossing are important daily habits children need to learn. They also need to be reassured that if they do this, then their dental appointments will be a hassle-free and happy experience.
Why not book an appointment with us and allow our compassionate and gentle dentists to put your child’s mind at about their initial visit?