Many children find visiting the dentist to be a bit scary or intimidating at first. Here, our Okotoks dentists explain how you can talk to your kids about these initial dental appointments, to set them at ease.
If you think about it, it’s understandable that a child may feel nervous or scared when they first visit the dentist. After all, they’re going into a new environment with new people, and unfamiliar technology and tools are everywhere they look.
And for children who aren’t accustomed to dental care, having their mouths examined may feel intimidating and 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!
Preparing your children beforehand is one of the best ways to make their first dental appointments non-threatening and positive. Sit down with your children when they are calm and at ease, and discuss what to expect.
Here’s some advice about what you should – and shouldn’t – say.
Choose your words wisely and don’t be too specific.
Avoid using frightening words around your child. For instance, "needle" or "drill" may be unsettling. You could substitute "needle" with "spray" or "spritz," or "whistle brush" for "drill."
Ultimately, 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.
Play down your own negative feelings and experiences.
Many adults feel nervous about visiting the dentist as well. It’s quite normal, but you probably don’t want to pass those feelings on to your children!
When you talk about your dental experiences and feelings with your child, try to keep your language mild and positive.
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.
Start counting your child's teeth with the number one or the letter A. Avoid making drilling sounds and arranging other "instruments." You can even use a mirror to demonstrate how a dentist might examine her 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.