Your Child’s 1st visit
This one isn’t necessarily a tip for preparing your child for the dentist but it is helpful for keeping tantrums and tears at bay. Schedule your child’s first dentist appointment at a time when they’re typically in a good mood. Usually after a nap and a meal works well. When kids are hungry or tired, they tend to be less tolerant of new situations and not as cooperative. We recommend scheduling around their first birthday or when their first teeth show. Its a good practice to start them early.
Use Positive Reinforcement
If your child is afraid of the dentist and they’re feeling anxious about their first dental visit, let
them know it’s completely normal and offer plenty of positive reinforcement by praising them for conquering their fears and being brave. As pediatric dentists, we’ve seen it all, so if your child isn’t compliant or cries at the visit, it’s absolutely fine and you shouldn’t stress about it. It can happen and every visit gets easier. Instead of focusing on what went wrong, draw attention to everything that went right. Tell them how proud you are about the positive aspects of the appointment and think up ways to overcome the negative things together.
Watch Videos or Read Books About Going to the Dentist
It can really help familiarize when kids see their favorite characters happily visiting the dentist! There are tons of videos and books about going to the dentist that children will love. Preparing your child for the dentist this way means when that first appointment rolls around, they’ll have an idea of what’s going to happen and it won’t seem like a scary, new situation.
Play Pretend Dentist at Home
Dentists games for kids can be a really effective way to demystify the experience and get them ready for their first dental visit. Not sure where to start? Simply play dentist! Break out your child’s toothbrush and have them sit in a chair. Pretend you’re the dentist and count and brush their teeth. Talk through what you’re doing and why oral hygiene is so important. Then, swap roles or let your child have a turn being the dentist with a stuffed animal like our pal Garto!