Many adults dread visiting the dentist and put off having routine checkups or procedures done because of fear that was instilled in them at a young age— either because the adults around them made dentists seem scary, or because a practitioner with a less-than-ideal bedside manner was used.
To help your child get into good dental habits and not be scared of regular trips to the dentist, it’s important to help their first visit go smoothly. Read on for some handy tips you can follow today to ensure your young one comes away from the dentist flashing their pearly whites.
One of the best things you can do to help your child avoid a fear of dentists is to start teaching them healthy habits early. From the time they are very young, get them used to the feel of fingers in their mouth as you check their teeth and gums. This will ensure that they are not freaked out by a dentist examining them on their first visit.
You should also look at taking them to a pediatric dental clinic, such as Stephanie Collins Dentistry for Children, by the time of their first birthday. While many parents don’t even consider this at such a young age, it is a good idea for multiple reasons. For starters, a visit early on in life gives dentists the chance to teach parents how to brush their child’s teeth properly, and to discuss meals, snacks and drinks which are better for the teeth.
An early visit also enables dentists to spot any potential issues before they become something big. While you may not expect it, studies have actually shown that more than one in four children in the United States have had a cavity by the time they’re four years old.
Taking your child to the dentist while they’re very young makes it more likely that dental problems can be avoided in the future. This, in turn, will then help to build more positive memories around the experience of checkups in general.
Choose the Right Dentist
To make your child’s first (and consequent) visits to the dentist go smoothly, it also pays to choose the best practitioner for your family. It is always advisable to opt for a pediatric dentist that specializes in dealing with infants, as they have the strategies to best cope with young patients.
Also, you should ask your family and friends for recommendations. While it’s easy to find lots of dentists listed online or in the phone book, it’s hard to tell form this information whether a dentist is good with children or not. Speaking to other parents about their experiences with certain practitioners will help you to get a feel for their skills and manner.
Lead by Example
It can also be helpful to bring your child along with you to the dentist when you go for your own appointments — unless of course you are overly anxious yourself about such appointments, or need to have something major done that will have you moaning in pain! Through leading by example when it comes to dental appointments, you will help your child to see that such outings are a normal part of life and not something to be feared.
These earlier visits will also allow children to become familiar with the dental office and what’s contained in it, as well as introduce them to the dentist so that they are not so overwhelmed the first time they have to hop up in the chair.
Pick the Appointment Time With Care
When you book in an appointment time for your child’s first trip to the dentist, keep their daily habits and schedule in mind. It is best to bring them to see the dentist when they are well rested and in a happy mood. Avoid appointment times that are right around the time when your child will likely be hungry, tired, or cranky for some other reason.
As well, on the day leave yourself plenty of time to get to the surgery and settle in calmly before the appointment time. You don’t want to be running late and rushing off to the dental office as this stress can immediately set your child on edge.
Bring Along a Source of Comfort
Apart from being there at your child’s first dentist visit to help soothe and comfort them, you can also bring along their favorite toy, blanket or other comforter on the day to make them feel more secure. While many dental surgeries do have props on hand to make children relax and introduce them to various procedures, having their favorite item with them to hold can make a big difference straight away.