Dr Amy Daley shared some words of advice about preparing young children for a trip to the dentist...with books and calming words at a blog about books for children.
Tell a friend that you are visiting the dentist and some may cringe…okay maybe a few more than some. Why is that? It usually dates back to a perceived traumatic childhood experience. This is why making those first few visits to the dentist an easy, and yes even enjoyable experience, is so important. The world of dentistry today is modern and caring, carried out by skilled and compassionate dentists, and there are wonderful ways of introducing our little ones into this world.
In the last 17 years of practicing as a dentist I am sure of one thing – having positive, nurturing regular visits to the dentist from a young age is crucial. Teeth appear at roughly six months and while brushing should begin then, a child’s fist dental visit really isn’t viable untilabout three years of age. Even then sometimes we can only expect a ride in the chair (spaceship or fairy cloud) and maybe a quick count of the teeth. I have been priming my beautiful niece, who you all know as PudStar, to be the perfect dental patient with kindy visits, brushing games and Play Doh dentist heads since her first teeth. Her first visit at age three was perfect. Her second visit at age four went not as smoothly as I had hoped. This has made me focus on how we can make children’s visits as enjoyable as possible.
Top 5 Tips for Preparing your Child for a Dental Visit
- Try to prepare your child for their first visit by discussing with them what a dentist does, and what happens when you go to the dentist. Explain that the dentist might wear a special coat and mask, and will lay you back in their magic chair and give you some sunglasses to wear, while they use special tools to count your teeth. You can tell them that it won’t hurt, and it might even be fun.
- Even if you yourself are a bit apprehensive about the dentist: try not to pass on your own fears.
- Read some of the great range of books available about first dental visits (see below for some of our favourites). These books talk about what a dentist does, what their waiting room and dental chair might look like, and some of the things that happen, like the dentist using tools and counting their teeth. Even looking at some of the pictures will help familiarise your little ones with what to expect.
- Ask around your friends and family for a dentist that is experienced in treating children. Let the receptionist know when you book the appointment that it is your child’s first visit.
- Consider booking your own appointment at the same time so that your child can see you in the dental chair and see how comfortable and happy you are!