Some children find their visits to the dentist to be scary or intimidating. Here, our Clarenville dentists explain how you can talk to your children about these first dental appointments to help ease their experience.
If you think about it, it's understandable that your child may feel nervous or even scared when visiting the dentist for the first time. They are visiting a new environment with unfamiliar technology and people.
For children who aren't used to dental care, having their mouth examined may feel a bit intimidating or invasive.
Having said this, it’s important that your child’s first dental experiences are positive. Those initial visits can set the tone for your child’s future attitude to dental care, so you'll want to get them off to a good start!
One of the best ways you can help your child to have a positive first dental experience is to prepare them for their visit. Sit your child down when they are already feeling calm and chat with them about what to expect.
Here’s some advice about what you should – and shouldn’t – say.
Play down your own negative feelings and experiences.
Many adults feel nervous about visiting the dentist themselves. It's a normal feeling, but if possible, you want to avoid passing your nervousness on to your children.
When you talk about your dental experiences and feelings with your child, try to keep your language mild and positive.
Choose your words wisely and don’t be too specific.
Try to avoid words that might seem scary to your child. Some examples of words to avoid are "drill" and "needle." Try replacing them with more general or mild descriptors like "whistle brush" for drills or "a spray" for needles.
However, your best bet is to keep it simple. You could just say:
"The dentist is going to count your teeth and make them nice and clean."
If your child asks follow-up questions, be honest, but continue to keep it as simple as you can, and use mild language.
Consider a pretend visit.
Before the first dentist appointment, play pretend with your child. You can be the dentist and they can be the patient. All you'll need is a toothbrush.
Count each of your little one's teeth with the number one or the letter A. Don't make drilling noises or line up other "instruments." Try holding up a mirror and show your child how their dentist might check their teeth.
Let your child role-play by using a toothbrush to clean the teeth of a stuffed animal or doll. The key is getting your child familiar with the routine so that they're more comfortable for the real visit.