Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to Make Your Child’s First Visit to the Dentist a Fun One by Being Proactive

by A. L. Woods, Staff Writer

Yay! One of your child’s first rites of passage has arrived: his first trip to the dentist. And how you handle this situation will make all of the difference in whether or not this will be a good first experience or a bad one. Here are a few tips to mitigate any potential stress and make his appointment fun, comfortable, and pleasant.

Be proactive. Small children operate better under these types of circumstances when they can still find some connection with their comfort zone. Book an appointment with a children’s dentist and make arrangements to take the child to the office in advance of his appointment. This alone will help fend off many potential challenges as most children’s dental offices are well trained on how to make a child feel comfortable.

Introduce your child to the staff and facilitate their interaction with him. See if the dentist can take just a couple of minutes (get this approved beforehand so that you don’t interrupt his office schedule) to come out and introduce himself to the child. If possible, allow the child to go back to one of the examining rooms, let him sit in the dental chair, show him the equipment that may be used during his procedure and explain how each piece works.

Start talking about the child’s appointment a few days before the appointment. Emphasize in child-friendly terms how going to the dentist will benefit his teeth, explain a little about what a dentist does, and promise that the child will receive a special treat after all is said and done.

Does your child have a special stuffed animal or toy that he particularly favors? Great! Assure him that he will be able to take the toy with him and keep it by his side while he is getting his teeth serviced.

Play little games with your child, i.e., have little “tests” where he answers questions about some of the things that you’ve told him. For example, What is the name of the dentist that you’re going to? What does a dentist do? How will going to the dentist help your teeth?

Aside from all of the above, make sure that your child’s dentist is familiar with his health history and that he knows about any pre-existing conditions, allergies (very important!), or medications that your child is taking.

All in all, your child’s dental visit doesn’t have to be stressful or fearful. With just a little bit of proactivity you can make it both a fun and memorable experience and start him off on the road to good dental hygiene with a laugh and a smile. 

*Photo credit: Finizio via Flickr