Preparing Your Child For Their First Pediatric Dental Visit

A visit to the dentist must be a very important part of your child’s quarterly health checkup plan. Good oral hygiene promotes healthy teeth. Since gum problems are tied in to many other problems in the body, getting a headstart on this important aspect of health will keep your kids covered at least when it comes to their dental health.

From a child’s perspective, a trip to the dentist can be very daunting. Lying on a chair in an unfamiliar room filled with huge machines, and a doctor poking instruments into their mouth can scare even the most strong-hearted. Also, with milk teeth growing and falling off, and permanent teeth making an appearance, there might be many trips to the dentist in store for them.

As parents, it is the onus on you to make a trip to the clinic as comfortable and relaxed as possible. This will only make our work as dentists easier and quicker.

Here is what you can do to ease your child’s anxieties;

Start very young

Children are very adaptable, and the earlier they see a dentist, the more comfortable they will be during a dental visit. Whether it is a regular checkup, preventive visit or even emergencies such as tooth impaction or Root Canal Treatment, they will be open to any procedures. We recommend bringing your child in at age 1 year, or when the first tooth erupts.

Keep it Simple

The first time dental visit is the most important, to make kids feel comfortable. Try not to explain too many details to them. Giving unnecessary details and explaining procedures may cause anxiety, which isn’t a good frame of mind to enter the clinic. Maintain a positive attitude but don’t make it sound all rosy too. Most importantly, avoid saying everything will be fine. If your child ends up getting treatment and going through pain, he/she will distrust your judgement in the future.

Mind Your Words

Putting words like ‘pain’, ‘injection’, and ‘hurt’ in their head, may make them associate such feelings with the dentist and their work. Let us at the clinic handle your kids. They will be taught specific words for such feelings that they can associate with. At Small Bites, we always begin by asking kids to show us their smile and count their teeth. Positive phrases like clean, healthy teeth sound good and do not alarm.

Pretend Dental Visit 

To get children a little accustomed to visiting a dentist, play pretend with them at home. All you need is a toothbrush and chair. Start by counting the number of teeth in their mouth, make your child look in the mirror. Ask them to pretend-play by brushing their doll’s teeth. The aim is to get them comfortable with the routine and open to a visit with us.

Avoid taking them to your own dentist

Many parents take kids to their own dentist assuming that they can familiarize their kids with the place. Experts caution against this however. Often times your anxiety can trickle down to the kids, especially during certain procedures that your child may never really require. Also adult dental clinics are sterile, simple spaces which may scare them, while in pediatric clinics, there are kid-friendly toys, games and TV shows which will keep them relaxed.

Small Bites Dental clinic is a very kid-friendly place, where children can engage themselves with toys, rubber slides and television. The main examination room also has drawing and animated characters, including stuffed toys to keep kids engaged.

Fuss over them

Small children are oftentimes whiny, cranky, wiggly and do not open to new people. As parents, you have to keep calm and soothe your child gently to take their anxieties at bay. As dentists, we and the support staff are used to working with children and can guide you on what’s best for your child.

Avoid bribery

Promising a special treat after being a good child at the dentist’s is a complete NO, since this only serves to increase their anxiety. Promising them a lollipop or candy, makes children wonder what they are in for, to deserve such a luxurious treat. Since we also emphasize on clean teeth and avoidance of sweets, it sends a wrong message to children. Instead, as parents you can praise your child’s behavior and bravery for going through with the visit. 

Emphasize the necessity

Teaching your child that a dental visit is a necessity not choice, from a very young age, will ensure they take care of their teeth for life. You can explain that the dentist helps keep teeth strong, prevents cavities from forming and is responsible for their beautiful smile. A calm practical and no-nonsense parental attitude will set the right premise for the child to continue with good oral health.

As parents your role in your child’s dental health cannot be over-emphasized. Follow all of the above steps and it will be a breeze getting them to us. In case of any assistance or more help, do reach out to the us on pedopremila@gmail.com.  

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