For child, going to the dentist can be a scary event. Lying on a chair in an unfamiliar room filled with unfamiliar noises, objects and smells, all while a stranger is poking cold, metallic and unknown objects in his month. But there is some good advice from the professionals to make the trips to the dentist easier for your child and yourself:
- “Let’s check your smile”
Avoid the ‘S’ (shot), ‘H’ (hurt) or ‘P’ (pain) words with children. Let the staff introduce their own vocabulary to children to help them get through difficult situations. When preparing your child for the visit, tell him/her that the dentist is going to check their smile and count their teeth. Use positive phrases like ‘clean, strong, healthy teeth’ to make the visit seem fun and good!
- Play Pretend
Before the first dentist appointment, play pretend with your child to be the dentist and the patient. Using a toothbrush, count your little one’s teeth by starting with the number 1 or the letter A. No drilling noises or lining up other ‘instruments’! Then let your child role-play by using a toothbrush to clean the teeth of a stuffed animal or their favorite doll. The key is getting them familiar with the routine so that they are more comfortable for the real visit.
- Start Young
The earlier a child visits the dentist, the better. This will provide your child with a ‘dental home’ where all dental needs – whether a periodic preventive visit or an emergency – will be taken care of. It’s best that the first visit starts at 6 months of age. This 6 month check is primarily for parental education, but also to see if there are any problems that should be addressed such as a possible yeast infection (trush).
- Choose a dentist spezialized in pediatric dentistry
Taking your child to a sterile, adult office gives the wrong impression, whereas most pediatric dentists make their offices kid-friendly. At River Rock Dental, we have video games, pleasing pictures on the walls, and movies or TV shows kids enjoy. We even have a waiting area especially for our young patients.
- Trust the experts
It is normal and age-appropriate for a young child to cry, whine, wiggle, and not want to be examined by a stranger. Stay calm and remember that dentists and staff are used to working with children and have seen their share of tantrums. Let the dental care professionals guide you; they might ask you to stay at a distance or to hold your little one’s hand, which will provide comfort and prevent him from grabbing any dental instruments.
Teach your child that visiting the dentist is a necessity, not a choice, and that the dentist will take care of his/her teeth so that they are strong enough for him to eat and he/she will have a beautiful smile for years to come. They will thank you for it for the rest of their lives.