Fear of visiting the dentist is a common problem, and quite often the result of a bad experience at a young age. Whether it’s a mild sense of unease or extreme panic, dental anxiety can be hard to overcome, but surprisingly easy to prevent. The key is to make childhood dental appointments as comfortable and easy as possible!
Let’s look at 4 easy ways to make your child’s first dental appointment a positive experience:
- Start Dental Visits Early– You should take your child to a dentist for a checkup as soon as the first tooth starts coming in or by their first birthday, whichever arrives first. Taking them to the same dental clinic from a young age helps to familiarize them with the dentist and staff, and build trust.
It also ensures that any potential issues with their baby teeth are detected and treated in time. Your dentist can help you understand how to clean your baby’s first teeth, reduce teething discomfort, and ensure that your child develops good oral care habits for life.
- Make Tooth Care Exciting – Get your little one on board with proper tooth and gum care by making it fun and exciting for them. Since babies and toddlers love exploring their bodies, help them learn about their teeth, gums and tongue as well as toothbrushing, dental visits and oral health.
Play games where they mimic the motions of brushing teeth, look for songs and books about strong teeth and smiles, and make them all part of your baby’s routine before their first dental visit. To make them even more comfortable, you could even play “dentist” by pretending to be a patient.
- Set a Good Example – Even at a very young age, babies and toddlers will pick up on your emotions and attitudes. If your baby sees you focusing on good oral health yourself, he/she will be more likely to follow in your footsteps too! If you are anxious or uncaring about dental visits, they will be more likely to feel the same way.
On the other hand, if you’re relaxed and comfortable, they will be too. Talk to them about dental visits in a positive and cheerful manner, pick out a special outfit or a fun playlist of dental songs, and get the rest of the family to join in for the “outing”.
- Select the Right Dentist – Do your research about experienced dentists who work with kids in your area, and ask other parents, educators or caregivers for recommendations as well. Look for a clinic that’s easy to reach, has child-friendly interiors, and is fully-equipped with modern facilities.
After you have a list of dental offices ready, and before you take your child in for their first visit, make sure you check out the clinic as well as the staff. Visit them in person to get a good feel of each place, and talk to the doctors and staff to see how comfortable you are with them.
The way you handle your child’s first dental appointment will set the tone for many more to come, perhaps even for the rest of their life. Help your little one think of the dentist as a friendly doctor who will help keep their teeth healthy, and lead by example. Take care of your own teeth, and keep up with your six-monthly appointments.
At All About Smiles, our warm and friendly staff can help your child feel safe, happy and comfortable. Visit us and set up an appointment for your baby’s first checkup now!