Buzzfeed has a list of tooth fairy ideas your kid will never forget. It’s definitely something to keep in mind when your child loses their first tooth, which usually happens at around age 5 to 7.
But just because your little one’s baby teeth will eventually fall out doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care too much about their oral health. As we’ve said before, children should be brought to the dentist as soon as their first teeth come through or on their first birthday.
Children’s dentistry trips, however, aren’t always easy, especially for those who have yet to make their first visit. It’s hard too for kids who didn’t have good experiences from their previous dental trips. That said, it helps to know the best tips to put your child at ease for their first or next visit to the dentist.
Children’s Dentistry Trips: 8 Tips to Keep in Mind
1. Make the First Visit Fun and Educational
Don’t wait until your child complains of a toothache before you make an appointment. It’s never too early to bring your little one for their first visit, even if it’s just to get them comfortable and more familiar with dental clinics.
You can do practice visits and take your child with you when you have to go in for your regular dental checkups. You can also grab the opportunity to teach your little one some fun and interesting dental facts before, during, and after the trip to the dentist.
2. Read Children’s Dental Books Together
One of the best ways to bond with your child is to read books together. If you’re already doing this and it’s one of your little one’s favorite activities, why not introduce fun books about going to the dentist? It will surely put their mind at ease about their upcoming visit to the dentist.
Plus, there are so many recommendations from other parents, you won’t have any trouble finding your child’s next favorite book (or books).
3. Play “Dentist Office”
Like reading books, pretend or imaginative play is an essential tool for building your child’s skills in different developmental areas. It helps develop language, social, emotional, and thinking skills.
You can use pretend play to prepare your little one for their trip to the dentist because it demystifies the experience. When you play “dental office” for example, your child will think “Oh, I play this often with mommy (or daddy)” and will likely respond positively to the real thing.
4. Work with Your Child’s Dentist
One of the reasons children’s dentistry trips go awry is lack of preparation. Even if your child’s not the type to cry when getting a shot, you should still prepare for tears, especially if it’s their first time.
Make sure to bring your child’s favorite toy or comfort object. Before the visit, do the best you can to make your little one feel happy and comfortable. Try cracking jokes or talk to your child and constantly reassure them that you’re going to be there all throughout the procedure.
5. Use Positive Reinforcement
Older kids understand that children’s dentistry trips are necessary if they want to have a beautiful and healthy smile. Younger ones may need more motivation.
A lot of pediatric dentists give stickers or small toys after a visit. You can talk to your child about the cool reward that’s waiting for them if they’re brave and let the good dentist clean their teeth. Or you can do something special such as going to a movie or the arcade after the visit is over.
6. Opt for a Specialist
Consider bringing your child to a pediatric dentist if it’s their first visit or if they’re not responding well to your dentist. Remember, even if you’ve been going to your dentist for a long time, your child may be happier with a practitioner whose specialty includes managing fearful young patients.
Like pediatricians, their offices are designed to be child-friendly. There will also be little things like stuffed animals for squeezing and kids’ sunglasses (because the lights can be extra bright) your child can wear during an exam.
7. Come Up with a Safety Signal
Children’s dentistry trips go much smoother if you try to eliminate things that can lead to stress, panic, and fear. And the easiest way to do this is through communication.
But it’s not just about endlessly talking to reassure your child. You should also care to avoid words such as “hurt,” “pain,” or “shot.” Instead, focus on the positive aspects such as getting clean, strong teeth and a beautiful smile.
Of course, some fussing is normal so it’s a good idea to come up with a safety signal. It could be a hand gesture since talking could be difficult during examinations. Reassure your child that if they give you the signal, you will ask the dentist to stop for a bit so they can calm down, squeeze a toy or hold your hand.
8. Be a Good Role Model
You may not realize it but you could be passing on your dental fears to your child. That’s why you should avoid talking about procedures your child may not even need yet such as root canals or dental implants.
You should also try to be diligent with your oral hygiene habits. Let your child see you brushing and flossing daily. And try to stay away from habits and mistakes that hurt your child’s smile.
Ready for Your Child’s Next Dental Trip?
If you followed all these tips, your child’s next visit to the dentist should be a lot easier. But if your little one is still not as comfortable with the routine, we advise you to check out our other children’s dentistry articles.
You may also get in touch with us via phone (403-288-5500) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions or concerns. Or you may drop by our clinic so we can give you a tour of our facilities. You can find us at Market Mall 3625 Shaganappi Trail NW #218 Calgary, AB T3A 0E2.
We hope to see you and your child soon!