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Visiting the dentist for the first time can be a little intimidating for some children, especially if they don't know what to expect. Often, they are thrown into a new environment where a stranger tries to poke around in their teeth. It's no wonder that some kids play up or refuse to open their mouths at all. To make things easier for you, your little one and your dentist, take some time to prepare them for the first visit.
Make the Dentist Part of Everyday Life
Some children are wary of new experiences, and you may find that they settle down with a dentist more easily if you introduce the concept of dentistry to them gradually before they need their own check-ups.
One of the easiest ways to do this is through play. For example, the following tips may be useful:
It's also a good idea to take kids along to your routine check-ups, if you can. If kids see that their parents are happy and comfortable in the dentist's chair, they're likely to have fewer issues when they go along themselves. This also gives them a chance to get to know your family dentist.
Warning: It's not necessarily a great idea to take young children along if you're having treatment. The sight and sound of drills, tubes and injection needles may freak them out rather than make them feel comfortable.
Mind Your Language
Kids are very good at picking up on their parent's anxieties and their use of language. If you're a little scared of dentists, try to hide this from your children. They are way more likely to worry about something if they know that their parents worry about it.
It's also important to use positive rather than negative language when preparing for a check-up. Your child may not actually be at all worried about going to the dentist to start with. But, if you then tell them not to worry because it won't hurt, they'll wonder why you're mentioning pain. If they start to associate pain with the dentist, they may become less willing to go for a check-up.
Other Preparation Tips
According to the Better Health Channel, it's a good idea to make appointments for young children at a time when they aren't tired. For example, they may be more perky and cooperative during an early morning appointment than in one at the end of the day when they are tired and grumpy. It's also a good idea to arrive in good time for your first check-up. This gives your child a chance to get used to the clinic environment and to play with toys or games in the waiting room before they see the dentist.