10 Tips for Preparing Your Child for the Dentist
Dentist visits are a real source of angst for children, but a necessity for dental health. So it’s in everyone’s best interest for your child to be up to making those appointments without too much fuss. Not to mention the fact that better preparation helps children get the most from their dental care. The following are ten tips for preparing your child for the dentist:
- Brush Your Teeth. – It makes it much easier to spot any potential problem areas when your child’s teeth are clean. Have them brush thoroughly just prior to their visit.
- Floss – Similarly, apart from good overall practice, flossing will keep the spaces between their teeth clear, making it easier to spot cavities, as well as prevent them.
- Rinse – In addition to killing harmful germs in their mouths, the dentist will be very grateful to your child for this courtesy. It may burn a little, but there are non-alcohol rinse alternatives.
- Reward – It helps to associate a not-so-great experience with a more positive end result. Fewer cavities may not excite your child, but a visit to the movies, a park, or arcade afterward might do the trick.
- Stress Reduction – Coordinate your child’s office visit with an activity that will help her relax and get her mind off the anxiety of a dental visit. If you can change your child’s thinking about the dentist, it will make the experience better overall.
- Explain What to Expect – If this is your child’s first visit, talk to them about what they will be doing, and why. The dentist will be looking in your mouth to make sure your teeth are okay, etc. The more they know, the less stress they will have.
- Read a Book – Choose a book about a child’s first dentist visit to help them understand and mentally prepare for it. Make it a normal part of life and not something to dread.
- Start Early – The earlier the better for the child’s first visit. You can start generally between 6 and 12 months. You especially want to make the first visit a non-emergency one. This will help acclimate your child to what to expect, and to develop trust in her dentist.
- Play Dentist – You can take turns with your child, alternately playing the roles of dentist and patient. Let him get accustomed to checking teeth, and having his checked, in a fun and reassuring setting before heading out for the real thing.
- Schedule Early in the Day – Avoid the potential for a cranky or hungry toddler by getting an early appointment whenever possible. It will help make your visit a more pleasant one for everyone.