People of all ages have their own particular relationships and feelings about dentists and dental appointments. Some adults are as afraid as children are. This probably has a great deal to do with how they were introduced to dental hygiene and their first trips to the dentist.
You have an opportunity to set your child up with a healthy relationship and positive feelings about dental care and their trips to the dental office. While some things are out of your hand, having a game plan will put you in the best position to pass on a healthy attitude about the dentist.
Start Your Child’s Relationship with a Dentist Early
As the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends, schedule your child’s first dental appointment by one, or within six months of the eruption of their first tooth. The first appointments will give the dentist a chance to get to know your child’s mouth early and be involved in the steps as their teeth begin to come in. It also gives your child an introduction to the professional and staff that will be helping them with their oral health.
Be Positive and Keep it Simple When Discussing Dental Visits, Including Your Own
Speak positively when explaining to your child the need for regular dental checkups. Watch what you say when discussing your own appointments. If your child hears your fears and groans, they will pick up on this and ultimately decide that this is the message they should be receiving about the dentist’s office. When explaining their appointment, keep things simple and be honest.
Let the Team in the Office Help You, They Have Experience with This
Let your child’s dental team know in advance that your child has fears about their appointment. They may have tools that they can use to further help your child. This information also helps them to prepare the physical space for the appointment.
Schedule a Fun Visit for After Their Dental Appointment
Plan a fun celebration for after your child’s dental visit. Remember that sugary treats are out of the question. Stick with nice activities that your child enjoys. Try a trip to the park, zoo, or nice visit to grandma’s after the appointment.
Have a Fun Run-Through at Home
Your child loves to play with you. Take this opportunity to set up a makeshift dental office, complete with paperwork and gowns. Walk them through the usual steps and get them comfortable with a dental professional looking in their mouth. Count their teeth as you “examine” them, using positive words. Have them lay back on a chair/couch or straddle your legs and have them open their mouths for you to look at their teeth. Use a flashlight, but don’t flash it in their eyes. The goal is to desensitize them to the different experiences they will have: laying back, lights in their face/mouth, etc.
Find Episodes with Your Child’s Favorite Characters Discussing Dental Visits
There are episodes that introduce kids to the dentist’s office available for many children’s television programs. Search for those and watch them before introducing them to your child. You want to make sure that the episode is helpful, not frightening. There are plenty of books out there too.
Visiting the family dentist doesn’t have to be a scary thing for your child. Acknowledge their fears and have a plan set to overcome them. Preparation and positive reinforcement can go a long way in creating the best relationship between your child and their dental professional.
Contact Dr. Coates’ Long Beach dental team today to schedule your child’s dental appointment. Make sure to tell us if this will be the first visit or anything else we should know regarding any trepidation about a visit to our office! Call us at 562-434-6414 or request an appointment here.