1. Schedule the first visit as soon as possible
You’re probably wondering what’s the right time to schedule your child’s first dental visit? A child’s first dental visit can be once they get their first tooth or even before to aid in familiarisation. By the age of 2 regular check-ups should be adopted. Early dental visits can help to identify any problems with the jaw, oral cavity and soft palate. Intervention in the early stages of growth can help prevent dysfunction and developmental issues of the oral cavity and give your child a better quality of life.
2. Talk to your child about going to the dentist
Talking to your children about the dentist is often one of the best ways to prepare them. Your first talk should introduce your children about the importance of brushing their teeth and good oral health. There are many children’s storybooks, songs and mobile apps about visiting the dentist. Storytime is a very handy strategy to help initiate the conversation about maintaining a healthy smile. Always remind them that you visit the dentist too!!
3. Role Play
Roleplay can be lots of fun. Before the dental visit role play with your child. Let them be the patient, the dentist and the parent. Practice counting your child’s teeth in front of a mirror. A great idea is to let them use a toothbrush to brush their favourite toy’s teeth.
4. Be mindful of your words
Avoid using off-putting words like needle and pain or stories like “the dentist is scary” or “I don’t like going to the dentist”. Instead, be positive. Phrases like “the dentist helps build healthy, strong teeth” or “The dentist is here to help you and keep your smile shining bright”.
If your child has a special toy, blanket or something familiar they like to hold get them to bring it along. This will make them feel more relaxed, comfortable and safe.
6. Be a good role model and adopt a positive attitude towards dentists
Make sure your children see you brushing and taking care of your teeth as part of your daily routine. If life permits even take your child along to the dentist when you go.
Be positive. Your child will easily pick up on your attitudes towards the dentist. Most fears about the dentist are passed down from parents to children. If you think that a dental check-up is frightening then your child will most likely feel the same way. Children will often mirror your behaviour. Stay relaxed and calm about their visit and hopefully, they will too.
7. Be patient
Take one small step at a time when teaching your child good dental habits. Quite often children will resist. If this occurs don’t push them. During the first dental visit, your child may be a bit apprehensive and reluctant to participate. This is normal, sometimes it takes two to three visits for your child to co-operate and “open wide” for the dentist to have a look. It is vital to make the first dental appointment as enjoyable and as comfortable as possible. This will help prevent any negative associations and allow your child to develop a healthy relationship with their dentist.