Getting your child to the dentist can be like… well, pulling teeth! But making sure your child has a great relationship with his or her dentist is paramount to good oral hygiene. You don’t want your child to be frightened of the dentist as it may result in life-long phobia or anxiety surrounding dental visits. Instead, get your child prepared for their first dental visit the right way.
Choose the right dentist
If you have never looked for a pediatric dentist before, ask friends for recommendations or research it online. Pediatric dentists receive further education that help them care for children including their emotional health.
When you call the dentist to make an appointment, ask a couple of questions to make sure you are getting a dentist you like. Ask them about their strategies to make kids comfortable, what types of anaesthesia they use, how many doctors will see your child, their office hours, and so on. This will get you acquainted with a dentist before you ever meet him or her.
Alternatively, you may be more comfortable with your own family dentist, and that is OK too.
Talk to your kids
Ask your kids their thoughts on visiting the dentist. Address any fears they may have and talk about why going to the dentist is important. If they are getting their teeth cleaned, discuss what will happen during the cleaning. If they are having a procedure done, walk them through the steps of that procedure as you understand it. The more information children have going in to a visit, the more comfortable they will feel about it.
Be a role model
Brush, floss, rinse and repeat at home so that kids understand that good dental hygiene is important to your family. Take them with you to the dentist and let them watch you have your teeth cleaned. Be the example you want for your children so they know what is expected of them by watching you. This also shows them there is nothing to fear from the dentist.
Set aside some time and take turns with your child playing dentist and patient. Use toothbrushes, dental floss, flashlights, and small cups so that your child will learn from hands-on experience what will happen during their own treatment.
Get tech savvy
Find out the latest in dentistry and see if any local dentists employ these techniques. Sometimes, technology can make visits faster and easier, and if a local dentist has the latest and greatest, that may be your best option for dental care for your family. My dentist has televisions installed above her chairs so that patients can distract themselves with tv, this would work well with most children.
Even if you don’t normally allow their favourite object out of the house, it can be very comforting for them to bring along their favourite stuffed animal, blanket or other favourite object along for their first visit. Be sure to let your child know that you will be right with them for their appointment.
Do you have a great tip for getting young children to the dentist?
Elizabeth Lampman is a coffee-fuelled Mom of 2 girls and lives in Hamilton, Ontario. She enjoys travelling, developing easy recipes, crafting, taking on diy projects, travelling and saving money!