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If taking your child to the dentist isn’t on your top ten list of things to do, you’re not alone. But there are ways to make your visit a pleasant experience.

The first dental visit is a routine rite of passage and sets the tone for regular visits in the future.

Establishing a good attitude toward the dentist at a young age is crucial to having a peaceful dental appointment as an adult. Good habits learned early can provide a lifetime of health benefits.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that children make their first visit to the dentist when their first tooth emerges, or no later than age one. Although baby teeth are not permanent, they serve as a guide for adult teeth and define the future health of your child. Don’t wait until a problem arises with your child’s teeth!

The key is to make an appointment with a dentist who specializes in children, also known as a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists and their staff know how to treat children and calm any fears they may have.

What can parents do to help keep a dental appointment from being traumatic and stressful?

Try these tips:

  1. Practice and role play at home. Have your child “check” your teeth and do the same.
  2. Plan a light snack before the appointment. Empty stomachs can make children grouchy.
  3. Come prepared. Bring their favorite toy, blanket, distractions.
  4. Use positive language. Exchange clinical terms like cavities, plaq ue, bacteria, etc. with “sugar bugs,” “tooth fairy.”
  5. Be a good cheerleader and role model. Discuss the importance of oral health. Stay calm and relaxed. You’ll help your child to do the same.

Look for a dental office that specializes in the treatment of children. Many, like Western Dental Kids, are unique dental offices designed just for children with bright, fun colors and kid-sized furniture. More importantly, the dentists and staff are specially trained to provide care for children. Finding a dental home for you and your family will go a long way in making a trip to the dentist a pleasant and routine event.

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