Our smiles are one of our most important ways of communicating. They communicate friendly, positive feelings and let people know that we’re happy to see them. Taking care of our teeth is not just important for maintaining our physical health, but for maintaining our smiles and self-confidence about showing them. It’s never too soon to start teaching your child about the importance of good dental hygiene and regular visits to the dentist.
Not taking the time to emotionally prepare a child for regular visits to the dentist can result in a greater likelihood of a negative experience that may cause your child to avoid dental care even into adulthood. Having to meet, and be touched by, a stranger in a foreign environment is enough to cause most young children a degree of anxiety. Add a mask, some scary-looking machines and someone putting gloved fingers in their mouth, and you have all the necessary elements for a potential emotional trauma. However, there are some things that you can do to make sure that your child’s visits to the dentist are positive experiences.
Setting a Positive Example
On your next visit to the dentist, you can take your child along to acclimate them to the sights and sounds of the office. Your being relaxed and smiling during your own visit will send your child a powerful message that a visit to the dentist is nothing to be afraid of. This requires the assistance of another person the child is very comfortable with that could play with them in the waiting room during the rest of your appointment. It’s also a good idea to bring along one of your child’s favorite comfort toys, since it’s an unfamiliar environment.
One of best ways to prepare young children for any kind of new experience role playing because children learn most new skills by copying what they see. Choose a good time, such as after the morning tooth brushing ritual, to “play dentist”. Allowing your child to take a turn looking inside your mouth with a small flashlight while will help them feel more in control, while showing them that it isn’t painful for you. You could also demonstrate a dental exam on one of your child’s favorite stuffed animals. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if you discover your child conducting a mock dental exam of their own later.
There are also some great cartoons and real-life videos like this one that you can use to show your child what a visit to the dentist is actually like. There are several available for just about any age group. Watching educational videos like these with your child provides them a visual preview of the experience. It also has the added benefit of helping your child associate a visit to the dentist with relaxation, positive interaction, and laughter.
The Right Dentist
It’s very important that the dentist you select for your child’s first visit is one that has extensive experience in working with young children. Just as children can sense your own emotional state regarding a visit to the dentist, they can also sense when someone isn’t comfortable around them. Kids Dental Specialists has just that kind of experience. We believe that one of the benefits of starting young is the opportunity for them to benefit from preventive care such as regular cleanings and sealants to avoid cavities and gum disease that sometimes require painful procedures. One of our goals is to help you make sure that your child’s first visit to the dentist ends with a smile, so that their smile can last a lifetime.