3 Ways to Make the Dentist Less Scary for Kids
Dental visits can be a scary experience for children–especially when you think about the sharp tools and loud machines dentists use to work on our teeth. But regular dental visits are so important for lifelong oral health, so set your child up for success by doing a few things to prepare him or her for the experience:
- Start at a young age.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends taking your child to the dentist as early as age 1 or within six months after their first tooth erupts. Even though those baby teeth will be lost later on, it’s important that the dentist also examines them as it relates to chewing, speech development and saving space for permanent teeth. Not to mention, children who consistently visit the dentist from an early age on are less likely to suffer from dental anxiety with future appointments. And you want to make sure your child keeps going to the dentist as an adult!
- Have your child model what you do.
Getting your child into a routine of good oral hygiene means hopefully fewer dental visits later on. Just as you teach your child how to do other hygiene practices, such as potty training, it’s a great time to show them the basics of good oral health, too. Many children model what their parents do, so make brushing and flossing something the two of you do together at a certain time every day.
- Set up a mock dental visit.
Creating a “pretend” dental visit with your child at home first will give him or her a better idea of what to expect when they have to go to the real thing, making them more comfortable and less scared.
Have your child lie back in a chair and use a mirror and toothbrush to show how a dentist would clean his or her teeth. Be aware of how you explain the procedures, avoiding words that could be scary like “sharp tools” and “loud noises.” Children learn better through play, so then have your child practice by repeating what you did on one of their dolls or stuffed animals.