While 86.9% of children in the US have visited a dentist in the past year, 13.2% still have untreated cavities. Learning how to prepare for dental visits with your child can help ease their dental anxiety. Future appointments will feel easier, easing the stress on you both.
Here are a few tips you can use before scheduling a dental visit. With these tips, you can keep your child calm (or even get them excited) about visiting the dentist.
Read on to learn more!
If you see a baby tooth emerging from your child’s gums, it’s time to schedule their first dental appointment. Usually, this happens when they’re about six months old. Regardless of when their first tooth erupts, they should have their first visit by their first birthday.
Taking your child to their first dental visit while they’re young can keep dental anxiety from developing. Instead, they can grow up feeling comfortable around their pediatric dentist.
Regular appointments from the time your child’s first tooth erupts will also set them up for a healthy smile for life.
During their first appointment, the dentist will complete a full visual exam of your child’s:
- Oral tissues
A visual examination allows them to check your child’s growth and development. Depending on your child’s age, they might recommend a gentle cleaning. The dentist will polish your child’s teeth to remove plaque, stains, or tartar.
The dentist can also show your child how to brush and floss if they’re old enough.
During this appointment, talk to the dentist about preventive dentistry, including fluoride treatments. Preventive dentistry can keep plaque, tartar, and cavities from forming.
The dentist can also provide you with tips you can use at home to improve your child’s oral health. For example, you might want to discuss your child’s pacifier or thumb-sucking habits. Long-term, these habits can affect how your child’s teeth emerge.
Making your pediatric dentist a regular part of your child’s life can help them grow comfortable with future appointments.
Maintain a Positive Attitude
About 36% of the population struggles with dental anxiety or fear, while 12% struggle with extreme dental fear. Growing up with dental anxiety could dissuade your child from going to the dentist when they’re older. Learning how to ease their dental anxiety now could benefit them once they become independent.
One of the best ways to ease your child’s dental anxiety is to lead by example.
After all, your child likely mimics the adults and older children around them. Show your child how you prioritize your oral health. For example, you can have them brush and floss beside you in the bathroom mirror.
If you’re afraid of going to the dentist, your child might pick up on that dental fear. They could mimic your apprehension and anxiety. Before that happens, try to discuss the benefits of going to the dentist and different dental treatments.
For example, maybe you recently got your teeth whitened. You can show your child how brushing, flossing, and teeth whitening give you a clean, healthy smile.
During your child’s dental visits, try to keep a relaxed, cheerful, and calm attitude. Remain polite and friendly with the staff. Projecting a positive attitude during appointments will encourage your child to do the same.
Walk Them Through It
Before your child’s first dental visit, walk them through what will happen. Otherwise, the mystery of different dental treatments can add to their dental fear. Removing the mystery will keep them from picturing worst-case scenarios.
Instead, walk them through the sequence of events they can expect during dental visits.
First, you’ll enter the building and say hi to the receptionist to check-in. Then, you’ll need to wait for the receptionist to call you back to the exam room. Continue walking your child through what they can expect during a typical appointment.
You can also remove the sense of mystery about dental appointments by acting it out. Playing dentist at home can make dental visits seem fun, rather than something to fear.
Consider wearing a white jacket to play the part of the dentist. Then, use a toothbrush to check and clean your child’s teeth. After you walk them through a typical appointment, switch roles.
Allowing your child to play the role of the dentist can help them recognize there’s nothing to fear.
Make It Family Fun
Remember, your child will mimic the older family members around them. Make brushing and flossing part of their routine while they’re young. Show them how you brush and floss each morning and night by having them stand beside you.
Recruit their older siblings if they have an older brother or sister who has already visited the dentist. Consider scheduling everyone’s appointments on the same day. Younger siblings might feel calmer about visits if they go with an older sibling.
It can also provide a distraction.
Choose a Great Dentist
Before scheduling a dental visit, make sure you’re choosing a great pediatric dentist.
Pediatric dentists are trained to understand a child’s development and psychology. They’ll have an easier time putting your child at ease. A kid-friendly practice can also make your child feel more comfortable.
They can play games and take in the bright, inviting environment before going into an exam room.
Above all else, try to remain patient with your child. If you punish them for their dental fear, they’ll associate that punishment with dental appointments.
Instead, try to remain calm. Remember, your child will mimic your attitude. Keeping calm will show them there’s nothing to fear.
Beautiful Smiles: Prepare for Dental Visits Today
Helping children prepare for dental visits shouldn’t feel daunting. Instead, use these tips to help your child remain calm. They’ll have an easier time receiving the care they need.
With regular appointments, you can improve their oral health and set them up for success as an adult.
Need to schedule an upcoming dental visit? We can’t wait to see you both.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment.