How your child feels about going to their very first dental appointment has a lot to do with you. Parents and dentists each have an important role in easing fears about the experience. An uncaring dentist can cause unnecessary anxiety in the child, as can overhearing too many dentist horror stories from mom and dad. Here are a few tips to help your child’s first dental visit be a rousing success.
- Talk to your child openly about the upcoming visit but give limited details. Answer questions simply and avoid overly graphic descriptions. A good dentist is trained to explain complex procedures to kids in non-threatening, easy-to-understand language so let them do their thing.
- Avoid telling your child about that big root canal or painful dental experiences you may have had.
- Focus on the positive aspects of keeping healthy, clean teeth and gums and that the dentist is a friendly teeth doctor who is here to help us.
- Promising rewards for going to the dentist is unadvisable. Your child should see dental care and visits as important but routine parts of growing up. It is simply something we have to do and not something worthy of special rewards. Besides, the dentist will always have a free new toothbrush, toothpaste and often a special sticker that is usually more than enough to delight a child.
Remember, it is perfectly normal for children to be fearful or anxious about anything that is new or unknown to them. A dentist who works with children will be well versed in how to cope with their special fears and anxieties, and will be able to make them feel comfortable and confident. Getting children started with dental care earlier than later also goes a long way to making them less apprehensive about the dentist.