A visit to the kids dentist is dreaded by many families. The dental office, after all, is an unfamiliar environment with strangers wearing masks. It has strange smells and sounds. Some children find the bright lights and buzzing of tools to be overstimulating. Others struggle with being expected to hold still for such a length of time.
Fortunately, there are ways to make the experience easier on everyone.
Find the right office. Look for a pediatric dentist. They specialize in children. Their offices are designed to be more comfortable and inviting to children, with toys and books. Some even have video game systems set up in the waiting room. My daughter looks forward to playing for a few minutes after her time in the dentist’s chair.
Start early. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, as soon as a child’s first tooth comes in — usually between ages six months and twelve months — the child should be taken to a pediatric dentist. Children who see a dentist early in life get used to going and don’t mind visits when they are older.
Tell kids what to expect. Read books about going to the dentist. Explain to your child any procedures he will be having. Remind him of his last visit.
Don’t lie. If your child is going to have a shot or get a cavity filled, don’t minimize the chance of discomfort or pain. I once told my daughter a shot wouldn’t hurt. Well, it did, and it was even more traumatic for her because she felt that I’d lied to her. Shots often hurt.
Practice good dental hygiene at home. Brush and floss your child’s teeth daily to help keep teeth and gums healthy. Healthy gums and clean teeth can help make dentist visits shorter and easier. Limit sweets and serve your child a balanced, healthy diet.
A trip to the kids dentist doesn’t have to be terrifying — for parent and child. By preparing your child in advance, you’ll all go in feeling more comfortable. Yes, the dentist without tears is possible! Now that’s a milestone to mark down in the baby book.