1. Start Them Early
It is important to establish a dental home for your child at a young age to ensure optimum dental health. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents bring their child in for his or her first dental appointment within 6 months of the eruption of the first “baby tooth” and no later than his or her first birthday. Bringing your child to the dentist at a young age is not only beneficial for oral health, but it also familiarizes the child with the dental setting. Receiving regular check-ups can facilitate early diagnosis, which will allow the dentist to treat problems with less invasive (less scary) procedures.
2. Be A Good Role Model
Many times parents inadvertently pass their dental fears on to their children. Make sure you always talk about dental experiences in a positive light Avoid telling your child “scary stories” about dental procedures you’ve had done in the past. Another way to be a good role model is to brush and floss daily so your child can see your oral hygiene habits.
3. Read Books About the Dentist
Books can be a fun way to introduce the dental setting to your child. The easy-to-understand language and fun, colorful illustrations can give your child an idea of what to expect at the dentist. The characters can reinforce the idea that going to the dentist doesn’t have to be scary! There are many amazing books written about going to the dentist, such as Show Me Your Smile!: A Visit to the Dentist (Dora the Explorer) by Christine Ricci, The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan Berenstain, and Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer.
4. Words to Avoid
You should avoid using words like “shot,” “hurt,” and “painful” when talking to your child about the dentist because you can trigger dental anxiety. The dental staff has its own vocabulary uses to explain appointments to children. You can ask the staff to give examples of words to use to explain things in a positive, comforting way. Also, avoid making promises such as “they won’t be doing anything today” because if treatment is needed, the child may lose trust in both you and the dentist.
5. The Importance of Good Oral Health
You should stress the importance of good oral health to your child so they develop good oral hygiene practices that will carry into adulthood. You can explain to your children that the dentist helps keep their teeth healthy and strong! If your child understands that going to the dentist is a necessity rather than an option, you will be met with less resistance when bringing him or her to the dentist.
We understand that going to the dentist can seem scary to children. We strive to make every patient feel comfortable in the dental chair. Parents play an important role in ensuring that their child’s visit to the dentist is a positive experience. Using these five tips can help set your child up for success. Parents and dentists partner together to promote healthy smiles to last a lifetime!