How to Prepare Your Child for a Visit to the Dentist
Just like you, a good oral hygiene routine is essential for the oral health of your child. Your child should be brushing their teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once daily. In addition to at-home oral care, your child should also have their teeth cleaned and examined at least twice a year. It can already be hard enough to get your child to brush their teeth every day. Getting your child to the dentist can be almost impossible. The thought of going to the dentist can trigger uncertainty, fear, and anxiety in many children. At The Elmwood Dental Group LLC, we can help you to prepare your child for the dentist, helping them to develop positive associations with their visits.
Let Your Child Know Early
Make sure that you let your child know about their dental appointment and let them know early. Do not surprise them the night before or the morning of. Giving your child plenty of advanced notice will help them to prepare mentally for their upcoming appointment. Answer questions that they might have but keep details to a minimum. Avoid using words like shot, pain, and hurt. While you may want to reassure your child, avoid telling them that everything will be all right. If your child needs further dental work, like a filling, this reassurance can lead to distrust.
Read Books on Dental Visits
There are all kinds of books for kids that help them to learn about the world. There are books on making new friends, books about going to bed, and even books about going to the doctor and dentist. Find a few books for your child about going to the dentist. These books have stories that are easy to follow, fun characters, and bright pictures. They can help your child learn what to expect during their visit so that it becomes familiar, and therefore less scary.
Children like to play pretend. Play pretend dentist with your child. Have your child sit back and open their mouth while you pretend to examine their teeth. You can use their toothbrush and count their teeth. After you check their teeth, let your child pretend to be the dentist and look at your mouth. You can even continue playing dentist with stuffed animals for patients.
Model Good Oral Hygiene
While it might not always seem like it, your child watches everything you do. Modeling good oral hygiene can help your child to understand its importance and can normalize it for your child. Brush your teeth with your child and show them proper techniques. Additionally, you should also maintain your regular dental visits. Have your child go with you to your appointment so they can see that there is nothing to worry about.
Provide Comfort for Your Child
Even with all of the preparations you do before the appointment, your child may still experience fear or anxiety when they step into the office. You can help your child to relax by providing them with comfort. Holding their hand throughout the appointment can help. You can also bring a favorite item from home, such as a blanket or stuffed animal. Having a familiar item can help to keep your child calm and relaxed while we examine their mouth.
Helping your child to develop positive associations with dental visits will make it easier for you to get them in the car and to their appointments. If you have any questions about preparing your child for their dental visits or need some more advice, call The Elmwood Dental Group LLC at (860) 331-8748 for more information today.