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How Can I Prepare My Child for Their First Visit?

Children aren’t born with a fear of the dentist. When anxiety develops, it’s something that’s acquired. Without proper steps, early anxiety can lead to a lifelong fear of the dentist, along with significant oral health problems as your child grows.

Research shows having dental visits early in life and maintaining six-month checkups can go a long way toward dispelling nervousness in kids. As a parent, there are other steps you can take, too.

Marvin Taylor, DDS, is a leading pediatric dental care provider for kids in Waterford, Michigan. In this post, the Dr Taylor’s Family Dental Center team offers six simple ways to help your child feel more comfortable about their upcoming dental visit.

1. Explain the reason

Kids are notorious for asking “why” about new experiences (and old ones, too). Help your child understand why seeing the dentist is so important. If your child is used to pediatric checkups, help them view their dentist as a doctor for their teeth. 

Tell them that regular dental visits are part of growing up and can help them keep their teeth healthy and smiles happy. Need some more help? Check out the videos on the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry website. There are plenty of books that can help your child feel more comfortable about visiting the dentist, too.

2. Roleplay

Many kids get nervous because they don’t know what to expect during their dental visit. Explain what happens during a checkup, step by step, from the initial evaluation through the cleaning experience. Then, let them practice the same steps on a stuffed animal or doll, taking on the dentist role.

3. Set an example

One of the best ways to help your child feel comfortable visiting the dentist is to go to the dentist yourself. As a parent, you’re a powerful role model. When they see you having regular dental checkups, your child likely emulates your behavior and visits the dentist, too.

4. Be matter-of-fact

When talking about your child’s upcoming visit, don’t mention dental anxiety, and steer clear of needles, cavities, drills, and other topics that could cause wariness. If you’ve had an unpleasant experience with a dentist, don’t discuss it with your child. Remain with the positive aspects of dental care and portray the dental team as friendly people who care about their oral health.

5. Let them bring a friend

Many kids have a favorite stuffed animal, doll, or other toy. If that’s your child, let them bring the friend to their visit and keep it next to them in the chair or on a nearby chair or shelf. That added security measure can go a long way toward helping your child stay calm. 

6. Offer a small reward

Finally, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating your child’s successful visit with a reward or treat afterward. Consider a trip to a park, watching a movie together, or playing a game. Buying a small toy or book is fine, too.

A lifetime of better oral health

Helping your child feel comfortable about regular dental visits is critical in ensuring they continue their good habits — meaning fewer problems in the future. To schedule a dental visit for your child, call 248-681-8100 or request an appointment online at Dr. Taylor’s Family Dental Center today.

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