Parents often dread preparing their children for the first trip to the dentist. This dread can become quite apparent to young children creating fear in them before they even step into the dentist’s office. With advancements in dental care and pain management, today’s dental office does not have to elicit fear and negativity in children.
Here are some tips for helping to prepare your child for their visit to the dentist:
1) Positively talk through what will happen at the dentist’s office. Make a verbal picture story of what your child will see and hear when visiting the dentist.
2) If your dentist has a website with friendly pictures of the staff and office, take the opportunity to show your child these pictures while naming the people who will help your child.
3) Visit the library to look at positive books about going to the dentist. Many of the popular TV characters have short books about “My first trip to the dentist.”
4) Tell your children why it is important to see the dentist regularly and how smooth and shiny their teeth will feel when they are cleaned.
5) If the child is particularly young, bring along a favorite stuffed animal or blanket to hold during the cleaning.
6) Bring along a book, toy, or coloring pages for your children to do while waiting to distract them from the fears they may have while they wait.
7) After the appointment, maintain positive talk about the dentist. Ask positive questions like “Don’t your teeth feel great? Isn’t it great to know those cavity creeps are gone? Wasn’t the hygienist nice?” rather than negative questions like “Did it hurt? Were you really scared?”