The American Dental Association recommends that children visit the dentist office when the first tooth emerges, or no later than age one. As a parent, we want to do the right thing, but how do we make the experience productive and minimize the anxiety of that first visit?
If you’ve past the first-year milestone and still haven’t made that first appointment, here’s a checklist to help make your child’s trip to the dentist a pleasant and productive experience:
- Practice/role play at home. Have your child “check” your teeth and do the same.
- Plan a light snack before the appointment. Empty stomachs can make children grouchy.
- Come prepared. Bring their favorite toy, blanket, distractions.
- Use positive language. Exchange clinical terms like cavities, plaque, bacteria, etc. with “sugar bugs,” “tooth fairy.”
- Be a good cheerleader/role model. Discuss the importance of oral health. Stay calm and relaxed. You’ll help your child to do the same.
It’s also important to find a dentist that specializes in children. Pediatric dentists are specially trained to treat children and their unique dental health needs. Many offices, like Western Dental Kids, provide a fun and playful environment, with activities and promotions geared for kids. That takes any fear or anxiety out of the conversation and makes kids want to return.
Establishing a positive attitude toward the dentist at a young age is crucial to having a peaceful and productive dental appointment as an adult. That’s why it’s important to set up your kids for success in their oral health. Good habits learned early can provide a lifetime of health benefits – and a healthy regard for the dentist.