Your toddler’s first visit to the dentist could turn into a huge ordeal for the entire family. Anxiety and fear are common among young kids, especially if they haven’t been prepared properly.
Taking your child to the dentist doesn’t have to be scary. Choosing an experienced pediatric dentist that knows how to approach kids is the first prerequisite for a tear-free visit. In addition, you can follow a couple of important tips.
Bring a Toddler to Your Dental Appointment
The unknown is scary for kids (and sometimes even for adults!). In order to decrease your little one’s anxiety, consider bringing the kid to one of your own dental appointments.
A child will learn something about the clinic and observe your behaviour. By showing that a dental visit is normal and far from scary, you’ll be establishing the right mindset in your child. Let the kid sit on the dental chair and look around. Familiarity with the surroundings is one of the essentials for anxiety-free appointments.
Make the First Appointment Short
Always take a toddler for a meeting with the dentist before the actual appointment.
An informal meeting will give your child an opportunity to get to know this person better and establish at least basic trust. Depending on the dentist’s approach and your child’s mood, you’ll be asked to either provide emotional support or remain seated in the waiting room. Both of these approaches can be helpful so listen to your dentist and follow the instructions.
Practicing for the Exam
You can turn the practice for the upcoming dental exam into a fun game that the two of you can play at home.
When playing, you should get in the role of the dentist and your toddler would assume the role of the patient. You may want to get a penlight and use it to look inside your toddler’s mouth. Familiarity with the upcoming procedures will enable a young child to relax rather than experience a panic attack in the dental chair.
Bring a Friend Along
Take your kid’s favorites toy to the appointment. The toy is a source of comfort and can help your little one overcome the anxiety.
In addition, many dentists will first show the procedure on the stuffed animal and then move on to doing the actual exam. By turning it in a game, once again, you and your dentist can decrease the amount of stress that toddlers go through during their first dental appointment.
Finally, remember to make the appointment at a time when your child is feeling calm and energetic rather than cranky. A dental exam close to nap time is certainly far from the best option. Most dental clinics will do their best to accommodate your schedule and suggest an hour that will work for you and your little one.