Taking your child to their first dentist appointment is a big step. We’re not talking about the appointments when they’re still babies and don’t really have any idea as to what’s going on around them. Rather, we’re talking about that first appointment where your child is able to grasp what a dentist is and why they are going.
Going to the dentist can often be scary for many children (and some adults!). To help ease some of their fears, and to make the trip run a little more smoothly, there are a few things you can do to help your kids prepare.
Take Care of Their Teeth
First, before you even make the dental appointment, you should be helping your kids to take proper care of their teeth. The primary reason you want to do this is because it’s good for their health. When kids are young they start gaining teeth, and this can be a painful experience. According to
TaylorWagnerFamilyDentistry.com, a dental practice in Jonesboro AR, “When your child is growing into their smile, the teeth are erupting through the gums, which can be an extremely painful and uncomfortable experience.” By taking care of their teeth now, you can limit the amount of pain they might have to endure.
On top of that, healthier teeth present an easier job for the dentist. They won’t have to spend as much time inside your child’s mouth, meaning the appointment is over quicker. As any parent knows, the sooner you can get your child through a tough experience, the better off everyone is. So, take care of your young child’s teeth and gums as best you can, and you’ll be rewarded for it come dentist day.
Talk to Your Child About the Process
The next thing you should do is talk to your child about the process. Go through everything they are likely to encounter so that there are no surprises. Tell them about waiting in the reception area, meeting the dentist, and what the dentist will do during the appointment. You can give your kids a quick demonstration by asking them to open their mouth while you poke around with your finger. Show them that there is nothing to be scared of, and that the entire appointment only takes a few minutes. The better you can prepare them, the easier the appointment will go.
Show Them Videos Online
If your child is still apprehensive or afraid of going to the dentist, try showing them some videos online. There are plenty of videos available that will walk your child through the process of a dental appointment. You can even find videos of other kids going through them so that your child sees there is nothing to be afraid of. Sometimes a visual aid helps, so look around on the Internet for some videos your child might find helpful.
Take Them to a Siblings Appointment First
For those of you with multiple kids, consider bringing the younger one along to the older child’s appointment. Your younger child likely looks up to the older one, and seeing the older child go through the appointment with no trouble will help to ease their fears. The older child will also likely want to show how brave they are, and will go through the appointment even calmer than normal. Just be sure you don’t bring your younger child if your older child has a fear of the dentist. This will only reinforce the fears and make them harder to overcome.
Make it a Fun Day
Finally, a great thing you can do is make the day of the dental appointment a fun one. Take them to a park beforehand, or out for ice cream after. This will take your child’s mind off of the dentist appointment and focus on something more fun. If you do this each time, your kid will come to associate the dentist with doing other fun things.
If you go this route, remember not to set up the fun thing as a reward for going to the dentist. This implies that the dentist is something bad – possibly something to fear. Rather, it’s just another activity to do during your fun day.
It Will Get Easier
If you can get your child to a place where they are not afraid of the dentist, your life will become that much easier going forward. You won’t have to fight with them each time the dentist comes up. The key to this is starting off on the right foot. Use the tips mentioned above and hopefully you’ll find that getting your child to the dentist for the first time is simple, and that it only gets easier each time after that.