It makes sense that some children may find visiting the dentist's office extremely intimidating. It is a new place with new faces and even new sounds.
If your child doesn't know what to expect then it can be frightening when a stranger suddenly has their fingers poking around their mouth with strange tools.
Having said this, it’s important that your child’s first dental experiences are positive. The first couple of times you bring them to the dentist will set their view on the dentist's office for the years to come.
One of the best things you can do to make your children’s first dental appointments non-threatening and positive is to prepare them ahead of time. Sit down with your children when they’re feeling calm and relaxed, and have a chat with them about what to expect.
Here’s some advice about what you should – and shouldn’t – say.
Watch how you phrase things.
If possible you should avoid using words that might cause your child to be frightened such as the drill.
One of the ways you could refer to the visit is by saying:
"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.
Don't push your dental fears onto your child.
Children aren't alone in feeling some dread when it comes to dental appointments. Some adults also feel uncomfortable during their visits. 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.
Play pretend with your child and have a play dental visit!
Paying pretend can help with a number of situations such as the dentist. By using a toothbrush and your imagination you will be able to help your child learn what to expect during their time at the dental clinic.
Count your little one's teeth by starting with the number one or the letter A. Avoid making drilling noises or lining up other "instruments." You can even hold up a mirror and show her how the dentist might look at and check 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.