Regular visits to the dentist are important for maintaining healthy teeth throughout life and visits to the dentist should start early in your child’s life. Now, it can be hard to figure out when to introduce your child to the dentist and how to do it in a way that isn’t intimidating and is a stress-free experience for everyone involved. Fortunately, we’re here with some tips!
1) Introduce your child to a toothbrush early. It’s a good idea to brush your child’s teeth early, even before they’ve all fully come in. Not only will this help keep their baby teeth clean, but it also helps get them used to and comfortable with someone else working in their mouth. They may squirm, but push through and try to brush their teeth regularly. When they are older, teach them how to brush their teeth on their own but be sure to supervise them so that they don’t swallow the toothpaste or make a mess of the bathroom!
2) Let your child come on visits with you. When you go to the dentist for your regular check up and cleaning, bring your child with you. If they’re a young child, it may be helpful to bring a spouse or older sibling as well to keep an eye on them and to reassure them if they get nervous. Bringing them to your visit will help them get more comfortable with the dentist office and teach them that, if their parent can do it, so can they.
3) Try role-playing. While you’re at home, you can brush your child’s teeth and also give their teeth gentle taps or scapes as if you were the dentist. It can help your child anticipate what to expect during their visit and make them more comfortable.
4) Encourage comfort items. Many children have a favorite blanket or stuffed animal to help them get through the day. If your child has something that makes them feel safe or comfortable, encourage them to bring it along to their appointment. As long as they keep it out of their mouth during the appointment, it will help them be brave during their cleaning!
5) Let them ask questions. Dentist offices are filled with interesting sounds, smells and tools. Encourage your child to ask questions of the dentist or dental hygienist about what they hear, see and smell. If they feel more in the loop with they’re experiencing, they’re less likely to be frightened.
It’s crucially important to build the habit of visiting the dentist early in your child’s life. We know that that first visit can be intimidating for both you and them, but hopefully these tips make it as pain free as possible.