A visit to the dentist can be very challenging for both parents and children. It is, therefore, essential to find a dentist early in your child’s life that you both like and feel comfortable with. Going to the same dentist for every visit – with and without dental problems builds trust and creates consistency. The better your dentist knows your child and their dental history, the better care they can provide.
Some children fear impending dental procedures or even dental well-child visits. However, children need to keep up with their dental health. If you are finding that your child has some anxiety about an upcoming appointment, try these simple tips to prepare them for a dental appointment:
- Start them young: The younger your child sees the dentist, the better. Generally, children should have their first dental visit right around age one or when their first tooth is visible through the gums. First visits are usually informal ‘introductory icebreakers’ to acquaint your child with the dentist and the practice and will generally only be between 15 and 30 minutes long. Starting a child’s dental care early allows them to get used to the experience and grow up understanding the dentist is a helpful place, not a scary one. During a dental well-visit, the dentist will:
- Do a complete dental examination.
- Give parents specific instructions on how to care for emerging teeth.
- Educates parents on preventing oral disease and managing dental decay between dental visits.
- Establishes a proper oral hygiene routine early to ensure the development of strong and healthy teeth.
- Choose a child-friendly dentist: Finding someone you and your child feel comfortable with is important. Look at photos of the dentist they will see on the practice website and familiarise them with their name and face before the visit. Parents should be in the room with the child, and a dentist should stop working if a child gets upset or nervous.
- Talk about it: Talking about your child’s worries about going to the dentist will help to alleviate some of their tension. Explain to them (in age-appropriate language) what a dentist does and why it is essential to visit the dentist. Keep it simple, straightforward, and honest.
- Teach good dental care at home: The first step in preparing for your child’s visit to the dentist is promoting a positive attitude towards oral hygiene and dentists at home. Explain to your child the importance of keeping their teeth and gums healthy. Make caring for teeth fun at home and the dentist.
- Be calm: Many parents are afraid of the dentist themselves. If you have anxieties about going to the dentist, try not to pass them on to your children. Help your child stay calm by being calm yourself.
- Reward good visits: Plan to do something fun if they do well with their visit. Sandwiching the appointment with two positive things will help keep the experience enjoyable.
Creating positive affiliations with healthcare can help develop healthy habits and attitudes toward medical and dental care that children can carry throughout their life. Intercare rewards children who visit our healthcare professionals with Star Certificates.
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