Setting the Stage Early for a Positive Dental Experience

Parents know that taking their kids to the dentist is necessary to ensure their oral health but unfortunately, those first trips to the dentist can be a scary thing from a child’s point of view – an unfamiliar room filled with strange objects, noises, and smells not to mention a stranger poking cold metallic instruments in the their mouth.

From the time your child’s first teeth begin to grow and fall out, she may make at least 10 visits to the dentist before her first day of kindergarten. To ensure those future visits are good experience of you, here some suggestions:

Start Early

The earlier a child visits the dentist, the better. Reha Haugseth, D.M.D., president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says, “This will provide your child with a ‘dental home’ where all her needs — whether a periodic preventive visit or an emergency — will be taken care of,” says Rhea. The best time for your child’s first visit to the dentist is when his first tooth becomes visible or at age one, whichever comes first.

Watch Your Words

Dr. Berg suggests, “Don’t use the ‘S’ (shot),’H’ (hurt) or ‘P’ (pain) words with children. Let the staff introduce their own vocabulary to children to help them get through difficult situations,” Consider instead, telling your child that Weninger Dentistry is looking for “sugar bugs” in order to clean them off their teeth. Another idea is to say that Dr. Michelle or Dr. Scott plan on counting their teeth and checking their smile.

Positive words like “strong, clean, and healthy” are important to making a child’s first visits good and fun rather than alarming and scary.

Stress the Importance of Good Oral Hygiene

Children should be taught that visits to the dentist are not a choice but rather necessary so the dentist can take care of their teeth so that they are sound and strong enough for them to eat. You can also explain that the dentist wants to keep cavities away so that your child will have a great smile of a long time. Parents need to have a no-nonsense attitude that sets the stage for a child’s acceptance of the necessity of a pleasant dental visit.

Be Prepared for Some Fussing

It is normal and age-appropriate for young children to whine, cry, wiggle, and resist examination by a stranger. Parents should stay calm when this happens and remember that we have plenty of experience working with children and have witnessed their share of tantrums. Parents need to trust their dental care professionals to guide them.

Have a Pretend Visit

Before your child’s first visit to the dentist, it’s a good idea to have a pretend dental visit in your home. You can do things like count their teeth for them and get them used to holding a toothbrush. Picture books with easy-to-understand language and detailed illustrations and can help children get a sense of what to expect. Dora the Explorer’s Show Me Your Smile!: A Visit to the Dentist and Spongebob Squarepants’ Behold No Cavities! A Visit to the Dentist are good books for this.