The first time a child goes to the dentist, it can be scary for them. They will have a lot of questions, and it is important to address each one. The more secure your child feels prior to the appointment, the better the appointment is going to go. Explain to your child that the first time is just to take pictures of their teeth and clean them really well. That typically helps your child be less nervous – especially knowing no pain is involved.
Discuss No Needles
Most children are afraid of going to the doctor or dentist because they know there are needles there. Make sure your child knows that there won’t be any needles used. The dentist just wants to look at their teeth and gums to make sure they’re healthy.
Tip: Consider looking for a video of a pediatric dental visit where just a cleaning and x-rays are completed. Letting your child see how the appointment is likely to go can be reassuring and make them less scared.
Talk about the Tools and Lights
The bright lights, tools, and general setting of a dentist’s office is enough to scare adults. Children feel more uncomfortable with the setting. Discuss that the bright lights are just so the dentist can see clearly to make sure there are no problems. Explain that the tools will not cut their skin, gums, or mouth and that the tools are just there to look for plaque, cavities, and leftover pieces of food.
Stress the Importance of Strong Teeth
Your kids might give you a hard time about brushing, using fluoride, and flossing. Explain that the better they take care of their teeth, the lesser the chances are of cavities developing. Explain that cavities mean the dentist has to use loud tools that might look scary to fix it, but it will not hurt them. Strong teeth are important and make more dentist appointments just like the very first one.
Talk about Brushing
The dentist will know if your child has been brushing or not. Make sure your child knows that the dentist knows, compare the dentist to Santa Claus – knowing if you’ve been naughty or nice. The correlation will help children realize that brushing and taking good care of their teeth now means the dentist is going to keep them on the nice list and tell them they’re doing a good job.
Discuss Atmosphere Distractions
Talk to your child about his or her happy place. A visual distraction, or bringing along a favorite toy, can help keep your child calm and focused at the appointment. Tell your child they can pick one toy to bring along so they feel safe the whole time.
Children are often scared of the dentist, just as adults are. What children do not understand is that the dentist is not a scary person, he/she is not out to hurt anyone. The dentist is likely to talk about brushing and dental hygiene with your child. Enforce the suggestions at home to get your child on a healthy dental hygiene routine.