Are you wondering how to prepare your child for their first dentist visit? If you have ever felt nervous about going to the dentist, just think of what it is like for your child the first time they go!
Our dentist’s office is a beehive of activity. We constantly have team members going around, taking x-rays, grabbing supplies, and visiting with people of all ages about their teeth.
This high-paced environment may cause your child to stress and worry. Something new and unexpected is around every corner. If your children aren’t staring at everything in starry-eyed wonder, they are probably clinging to your leg in fright.
As a parent, you want to make your child’s life easier. You can do a few things at home to help prepare your kids for their first dental visit.
1 – Get Them Familiar with the Dentist’s Office
A pleasantly simple way to help your children learn what a dental appointment is like would be to take them to one. No, we’re not talking about one for them; we mean that of an older sibling or even you, a parent.
If you have an appointment coming up, take one or two of your kids along for the ride. Seeing our dental techs at work and meeting our friendly and gentle dentists will help them know what more to expect when they come back for their visit.
Viewing a dentist’s appointment from an outside perspective will expose them to how a regular visit goes.
2 – Educate Your Child About the Dentist Through Media
Thankfully, we live in a time where access to all kinds of media is easily accessible and free to use.
Using social media and videos is a great way to show your kids what to expect while visiting the dentist. Your child can visually see and have positive experiences with the dentist even without going!
Some of the tools we use at the dentist’s office can seem strange and scary for kids not used to them. Showing your child pictures of standard dental tools and videos of how they work can help them feel more comfortable about us using these tools to clean their teeth.
3 – Help Your Child Get Used to Loud Noises and Dental Equipment
The scariest and most uncomfortable part of any dental appointment for a child is having loud dental equipment near or in their mouth.
Some of the tools we use create noise that may frighten some kids. You can help prepare your child for treatment with these tools by simulating them at home.
Most of our appliances don’t produce any more noise than a typical electric toothbrush. So, while this isn’t any comparison to the loudness of other common household appliances such as electric mixers or hair dryers, using mechanical household appliances like that can help your child get used to being near operating dental equipment.
Explaining that some of these tools may be loud and showing your child that they have nothing to worry about can soothe fears before they arise.
4 – Make Learning About the Dentist Fun
Children tend to have an abundance of two things: energy and imagination. Put them both to good use and make a game out of going to the dentist’s office!
Your child will go through a very similar cleaning appointment that you, as an adult, do. Getting your child used to someone working in their mouth is essential for preparing children for the dentist.
As part of the game you play with your kids, consider going through a routine such as brushing your child’s teeth and rinsing them out with the help of a small syringe. This experience will be very similar to what your child will experience as part of their appointment with us!
5 – Teach the Importance of the Dentist Through Object Lessons
Not too many children are content to sit through a detailed lecture on the merits of dentistry. Bring their natural curiosity and playful nature into your preparation. Using object lessons is a great way to show children what going to the dentist can do for them.
To teach your children about cleaning teeth and taking care of cavities, you can guide them through an object lesson using everyday objects. Hard-boiled eggs are great teaching tools. They are sturdy and can generally hold their shape when lightly cracked.
Using a hardboiled egg, you can show your child why cleaning teeth is essential, and you can even walk them through some teeth cleaning exercises of their own! Additionally, with the help of play dough or toothpaste, you can show your child how the dentist might fix a cavity by filling it.
Activities like this can provide your child with an engaging object lesson, and they get to play along the way!
6 – Reassure Your Child That Our Dentists are Friendly and There to Help
Sometimes parents accidentally project their fears and apprehensions about dental appointments onto their children. When teaching your child about the dentist, make sure your tone matches the message you want to convey.
When talking about the staff at the dentist’s office, remain positive and assure your child that the team is there to help them. Try projecting confidence about the dentist’s office and the people who work there so that having a stranger work on their teeth isn’t as scary.
7 – Bring a Favorite Toy or Object Along
Even the most advanced preparation can leave your child nervous about being in the chair.
Bring along a favorite toy, stuffed animal, or blanket so your child has something to hold onto during the appointment. We are happy to accommodate almost anything that helps your child feel more comfortable.
Oak Hills Dentistry is Here to Help!
We work with a lot of kids at our practice. We are well accustomed to children who have a hard time during their first cleaning. We are happy to work with you and your child’s needs to help them feel safe and comfortable during their first dental visit.
You can call us to talk about options for your child. We want everyone who comes in our doors to feel safe and at ease, whether you’re just growing in your baby teeth or fixing up the teeth that have served you faithfully for years.