5 Pointers For Parents: Make Your Child’s First Dental Visit An Easy Transition

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Top Tips for Your Child’s Successful First Dental Visit

In our first post about your child’s first dental visit, we talked about the right time to take your little one to the dentist for the first time. Today, we give our top tips to prepare this first visit at home and make sure it’s a success!

Dentists, like parents, prioritise positive reinforcement to foster a long-term, trusting relationship with your child. They excel at reading your child’s body language and understand what comforts or scares them. Additionally, they are prepared to invest time and energy in slowly building a trusting relationship.

However, there are always little things you can do to make this transition easier at home so that taking your kid to the dentist for the first time can be something they might even look forward to.

Here are just a few of them:

1. Role play at home

When you first took your children to the childcare center, you probably spent days beforehand talking up the place. Most of us try to paint the place in a positive light and give our children a rough idea of what life will be like there so they are not scared.

The same can be done about taking your child to the dentist – mentally prepare your kids for a positive experience by talking it up. Make sure you liaise with your dentist beforehand if you have created any expectations so that your dentist can work with you. That can be stories about tooth fairy or rewards at the end of the appointment.

2. Never threaten your child

We often hear, “If you don’t behave, the dentist will give you a big needle,” causing the child to start crying and become scared during the appointment. Scaring them isn’t a good start if you aim for the child to grow more confident and trusting of the dentist over time. Let’s try a few tricks first, proven to work over the years, and hopefully, your child will respond.

It’s important to remember that every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. As parents, we play a crucial role in helping our children overcome any fears or anxieties they may have about visiting the dentist. By providing reassurance and positive reinforcement, we can help build our child’s confidence and trust in the dental care process. With time and consistent encouragement, most children can learn to approach dental visits with a sense of calm and even enjoyment.

3. Do not try to overpower your child

Just because your child is small now and you think you can hold him/her down to get the job done, doesn’t mean that’s a good idea. By doing it this way, you will create a lifetime of fear for your child, and possibly destroy any trust between them and the dentist in the future.

We recently encountered a family with two young children. Surprisingly, the 4-year-old was hysterical during her first dental visit. The 2-year-old, however, remained calm, enjoying the experience after watching her parents undergo treatment. Upon inquiry, we learned that the older sibling had a traumatic experience at a recent doctor’s appointment. It was an appointment for her wound checked. Though necessary at the time, this incident led her to mistrust individuals resembling doctors or dentists.

At Grange Family Dental, we prioritise fostering positive experiences for every child. It’s crucial to understand that forcing a child into compliance during dental visits can have long-lasting negative effects. Instead, we advocate for patience, gentle guidance, and creating a supportive environment where children feel safe and empowered. Our team dedicates itself to building trust with each child, ensuring their dental experience is positive and anxiety-free.

4.Make sure you are always visible

As you establish a bond with the dentist, your presence remains essential for ensuring your child’s comfort and security. Therefore, parents should stay within their child’s sight during the first dental appointments. Your child will signal when they’re ready for you to step back. This process resembles when they began daycare. We all know at the beginning, they may prefer your constant presence. However, as they adjust to the dental environment, they’ll become more independent and comfortable.

As your child adapts to the dental environment, their independence grows. Consequently, this transition empowers them, fostering confidence. Moreover, parents should offer support and reassurance while letting their child take more control.

Building Confidence: Enhancing Dental Visits for Children

If you’ve read the first part of our article, you understand that children observe their parents constantly. Demonstrating happiness and relaxation during your dental visit influences your child’s feelings. This principle also applies when discussing dental visits at home with your family.

Keep in mind, these tricks are just a few among many to aid your child in building a healthy and lifelong relationship with the dentist. They should not be strictly applied. Depending on the situation and your child’s personality, some may work better than others.

Your local dentist can provide detailed information on nurturing your child’s confidence at the dentist. If you think it’s beneficial, contact your dentist today. Ask if your kids can experience a “ride in the chair” during your next visit.

Stay tuned for the third and final part of our series – we will talk about techniques dentists use to build trust with their new little patients.

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