You may experience fear of the unknown every now and then, perhaps when you begin a new job, or take a new exercise class. So imagine what it may feel like when you tell your child they’re going to the dentist for the first time. They might not understand what the dentist does or why they have to go in the first place. Or worse yet, they might already be afraid of the dentist if you have the same fear.
At Supertooth in Bethesda, Germantown, and Gaithersburg, Maryland, we want your child’s first experience with the dentist to be a positive one, so your child can make oral care a lifetime priority. Our team is experienced in general, cosmetic, and implant dentistry and also welcomes children to our practice and does everything we can to make them feel comfortable.
But, your child’s first dental visit really begins with you. Before you bring your child to their first dental visit, here are some tips on how to prepare them to have a positive experience.
It may sound a little excessive to be excited about a visit to the dentist, but if you convey that it’s going to be a great experience, your child will be excited, too. At the very least, they won’t feel like a trip to the dentist is something to worry about. Explain to your child how important it is to take care of their teeth — just like grownups do — so they can last a lifetime.
You may even tell your child about positive experiences you’ve had at the dentist and reassure them that it’s going to be an adventure in learning how to brush and floss. At Supertooth, we recommend reading childrens’ books about visiting the dentist so your child can have a good idea about what to expect. Your excitement and a kid-friendly story about the dentist can ease any fears your child may have.
Kids love to play. It’s often how they learn about the world around them. Just like they play “school” or “house,” you can play “dentist” with them. All you need is a toothbrush and their favorite doll or stuffed animal. Show them how the dentist “counts” their teeth and makes sure they’re all healthy.
You can even take turns letting your child “examine” your mouth and count your teeth, and then you can do the same with them. This type of play can allow your child to feel comfortable lying back in the dentist chair, and it will give them a good idea of what to expect at their first appointment.
Children are perceptive. If they sense fears or anxieties from you when it comes to dental visits, they’ll most likely feel anxious themselves. Remember, they don’t yet have an opinion about dental visits, so it’s up to you to maintain a positive or neutral attitude.
Morning appointments tend to work well for children, as they’re less likely to have a meltdown because they’re tired from a busy day. Take into consideration your child’s schedule and try to avoid times when they’re fussy, hungry, or tired.
Tell your child you’re going to take them to the playground or out to lunch after their dental checkup. That way, they’re already looking forward to another positive experience, and the dentist visit could simply become part of a fun morning or afternoon.
If your child still has some apprehension about visiting the dentist, let them bring along their favorite toy or stuffed animal so they can feel comfortable. The entire team at Supertooth welcomes children of all ages, and they have the experience and patience to help your little one feel at ease.
We’re always available to answer any questions you may have or to offer additional suggestions about how to prepare your child for their first dental visit. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Supertooth today.