Bringing a child to the dentist for the first time can be a dramatic experience for the child, the parent, and even the dentist. Children aren’t used to having someone look into and fiddle around with their teeth and having this suddenly done can be challenging. Parents who are able to manage the first dentist trip can greatly reduce the stress and anxiety that is likely to arise during their first dental appointment a make the process easier and more enjoyable for all involved.
The first step that can greatly improve a child’s first dental visit is to schedule a non-appointment. Basically, this is a trip to the dentist where your child can meet the dentist and maybe have a cursory appointment without an extensive investigation. By doing this your child will likely learn that there is nothing to be scared of when visiting a dentist and this initial investigatory appointment will make the next meeting much easier.
Be sure to talk to your child about the importance of brushing his teeth regularly and having regular teeth cleanings done at the dentist. Tell your child that a dentist performs a better overall clean of your teeth and the dental visit will likely not seem to be too daunting as a result. Discussing with your child the process is a great way to make them feel as if having a dentist appointment is not too significant. In addition, consider having your child sit in on your dental appointment to see what it is like and so they can see that the appointment is not too scary. Of course, be sure to avoid bringing them into the room if you are having a tooth extraction or other serious dental procedure but a routine dental cleaning appointment should be calming.
Finally, consider having yourself perform a mock dental appointment. Sit your child on a high chair and brush and floss his or her teeth to show them what it is like. Use a mirror and look at their mouth. By doing so you will get them used to what visiting a dentist will be like and will help the dentist appointment from being scary.
The first dental trip will likely not be an enjoyable experience but by being proactive and taking these basic steps you can help your child from having a particularly traumatic experience. If all else fails, promise them a lollipop or a treat after their dental appointment. That seems to be the classic dental standby.