Kids aren’t born with a natural fear of dentists. They may be afraid of strangers and unknown situations, but any negative feelings about dental visits are learned from adults or older siblings. Even if a child is apprehensive about visiting the dentist, it’s important for regular check-ups to be scheduled. There are some good ways to prepare your child for their first visit to a clinic like S & B Dentistry and make it less stressful. It’s as easy as the ABCs!
The ABCs Aren’t Just for the Alphabet: Preparing Your Child for the First Trip to the Dentist
Taking your young child to the dentist without preparing them first can be like giving a dirty cat a bath. The cat needs the bath, but it doesn’t want to be there. Your child needs to have regular dental visits, but going without adequate preparation may be scary. You can help your child be prepared by using the ABCs of vising the dentist.
- A is for Acting: Children love to play pretend. And, when their parents or siblings participate, it’s even more fun. Prepare your child for their first trip to the dentist by acting out what the visit may be like. Set up a pretend dentist office using a recliner (or couch if you don’t have a reclining chair). Set a small, towel-covered table beside the chair. On top place a set of non-frightening dentist tools. Tools such as a regular toothbrush, battery toothbrush, dental floss, small cup of water, and bowl (for spitting).
Take turns playing dentist and patient. You start as the dentist and go through some of the steps the dentist may do such as cleaning and flossing. Use the battery toothbrush to mimic the cleaning tools the dental hygienist uses. Then, let your child have a turn playing the dentist to you. Make the experience positive and fun so your child won’t be scared when the real visit arrives.
- B is for Be Careful: When discussing the upcoming trip, be careful what you say to your child. A neutral, casual attitude is best. Being overly positive can backfire if treatment is required. If you tell your child the visit will be great and nothing bad will happen, they may have a different opinion about the experience. This can lead to distrust for future visits.
Also, be careful in your choice of words that may come across as negative and frightening. Words like “shot,” “drill,” “needle,” “hurt,” and even “x-ray” can be scary for a young child. Just explain very simply that the dentist needs to look at their teeth and count them.
- C is for Communicate: Communicate on your child’s level about the pending visit but don’t avoid or overemphasize the topic. There are many age-appropriate books available about trips to the dentist. Share these with your child.
Your positive attitude will have a big impact on your child’s first dental visit. Simple steps like the ABCs will help you make it more comfortable for your child.