No child likes a stranger poking around in his or her mouth (and neither do most adults, for that matter). But while your son or daughter’s first jaunt into the dentist’s chair might be a bit uncomfortable, there is absolutely no reason that it has to be traumatic.
Children can develop a healthy attitude toward dental care and oral hygiene with a bit of guidance from mom or dad. Prep your kids for a smooth and happy visit to a dentist with these four simple tricks.
1. The earlier, the better.
The earlier you can acclimate your child to regular trips to the dentist, the better. The Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child should be taken to the dentist when his or her first set of teeth starts to come in, typically around 1 year of age.
2. Talk to your child beforehand.
Before you head to the dentist’s office, make sure to have a conversation with your child. Clearly explain what is going to happen and why it is necessary. It is also a good idea to go over the basics of dental hygiene and practicing brushing your teeth together. Explain that the dentist helps to prevent cavities and keep smiles looking beautiful. With that being said, don’t explain things in too much detail. Doing so will only raise more questions, and adding more information could just generate unnecessary anxiety.
3. Watch what you say.
Avoid using words like “hurt,” “pain,” or “shot.” And most definitely avoid telling any of your dentist “war stories.” Steer clear of filling kids in on the gory details of fillings, cavities, etc. This will also generate anxiety and cause your child to become afraid.
Instead, keep things positive. Use words and phrases like “clean,” “strong,” and “healthy teeth.”
Should any kind of issue or problem arise, let the professionals introduce their own vocabulary to children to guide them through difficult or potentially painful situations.
4. Be prepared for some fussing.
It is natural for a child to cry or fuss a bit. Remember, this is anything out of the ordinary, and the staff is well equipped to deal with this kind of thing. Most experts recommend not using any kind of bribery to coerce good behaviour, as doing so can only exacerbate apprehension. Instead, once the visit is over, praise the child for his or her bravery and cooperation.