Taking your child to the dentist for his or her first exam can be an anxiety-filled event. But it’s very important to start taking your child to the dentist early.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends you bring your child for a dental visit within six months of the first tooth erupting, but no later than his or her first birthday.
Even with that recommendation, many parents avoid children’s dentistry until around age 2.5, and a least a third of children don’t see a dentist at all by that age. Starting early is vital since more and more preschoolers are getting cavities that sometimes require surgery to treat.
Along with brushing and flossing, regular dental exams are key to developing good oral hygiene habits. To ensure a positive experience at the dentist, take the time to prepare your son or daughter for their first appointment.
Here are some ways to prepare your child that will ensure the first visit goes smoothly.
Tell you child what will occur at the dentist. Use kid-friendly terminology and don’t talk about treatments or procedures that could cause anxiety. Don’t mention needles or drills or anything else that could make your child think going to the dentist will be painful. Be sure to explain what a dental chair looks like and what some of the dental tools might look and feel like.
Prepare your child by reading storybooks about visits to the dentist. Good options include:
- The Crocodile and the Dentist by Taro Gomi
- What to Expect When You Go to the Dentist by Heidi Murkoff
- Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer
- The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan Berenstain
Kids manage new experiences through play. Playing out a situation or scenario can make it easier for children to process what’s happening to them. At home, play dentist using toothbrushes and flashlights. Use stuffed toys or dolls as patients who visit the dentist for a checkup. Your child can play each of the roles — the dentist, the patient and the parent. It’s a fun way to help young kids understand what’s going to happen.
Act as a Role Model
Make sure your kids see you brush and floss daily. And if you’re a little anxious about going to the dentist, don’t share that fear with your kids. The fear of doing to the dentist can be passed from parent to child. You might consider bringing your child along for your own checkup so he or she can see what happens during a dental exam. Many offices welcome children to sit on mom or dad’s lap while dentists and hygienists examine and clean your teeth.
Williams & Daily Dental, is a family and pediatric dentist located in North Raleigh, NC with a team of dedicated dentists enthusiastic in their commitment to their patients. Contact Williams & Daily at (919) 846-9070 for more information and to schedule an appointment today.