Dental check-ups are one of the greatest gifts you can give your children. Unfortunately, they might not always see it that way. But you know what they say, practice makes perfect. That rings true for dentist visits as well. The sooner a child is exposed to pleasant trips to doctors offices, the better. If the first visit to the dentist goes well, it can set the tone for visits in the future as well. Regular check-ups and cleanings are vital for overall health. Exposing children to the dentist early can help prevent cavities and tooth loss, which also helps save money in the long run. Healthy teeth are something that could last a lifetime if taken care of properly. That care starts with the parent’s roles in the care of their children’s oral health and hygiene. Here are some helpful tips and reminders for how to make the most out of your child’s first dentist visit:
Support Dental Health at Home
Taking care of your child’s teeth should begin at home. Encourage your child to practice healthy habits as far as brushing and flossing regularly. Promote the importance of properly cleaning your teeth and even make mention of the dentist. Speaking of the dentist in a positive way and explaining that the visit is a good thing can set the tone for your child’s first visit. When children are accustomed to brushing and flossing, the only new experience is having someone they do not know doing it. Try to make sure that the actual visit is the only foreign concept to your child, but the cleaning and discussing oral hygiene is old news. The more familiar a child is with what is going on, the less likely they are to be frightened.
Find a Role Model
Sometimes other children are the best role models for kids. If you have more than one child, it could be beneficial to schedule back to back appointments and have the child with more dentist experience go first. If a child is frightened or uncomfortable, this is an extremely helpful technique. Actually being able to see a sibling go through with the visit could help build courage in the younger child. If the older child is not completely comfortable with being at the dentist either, it could be an opportunity to be a good role model for the younger sibling and cause the big brother or sister to embark on an act of bravery.
Set An Example
Children pick up on feelings much easier than adults do. It has actually been scientifically proven that adolescents pick up on their parent’s stress and that the emotions can actually be contagious. Be aware of your own fears and anxieties regarding the dentist. Do your best to not show signs of stress or worries so that your child does not inherit those same fears. It is likely that most people who fear the dentist had a negative experience when they were young, or at least think that they did. It does no good to re-create those negative experiences for your children. Try to create the most pleasant atmosphere possible for your children so that they can determine their own feelings towards the dentist. Making it mandatory that your child sees the dentist and also displaying anxiety about the dentist yourself creates mixed signals and emotions in your child. So just relax! It is just a dentist visit.
As you know, children are not always the most cooperative. If your child is misbehaving or getting upset, remember to be patient. Since it is the first visit, it sets the tone for the next visit. Avoid leaving in the middle of a visit regardless of your child’s behavior. That will stick in the child’s mind and may give them reason to believe that if they behave that way again then they will get to leave. Trust that your dentist knows how to handle child patients and allow the child to experience what a dentist visit is even if it is not exactly enjoyable for everyone. Just be patient and try to remember that life is often full of things that are uncomfortable and trying new things is a good thing.