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How Can I Prepare My Child for Their First Dentist Visit?

How Can I Prepare My Child for Their First Dentist Visit?

The American Dental Association’s (ADA) guidelines state that your child’s first visit to the dentist should be about six months after their first tooth erupts or no later than one year old. After that, they should come in for a check-up twice a year. 

If you follow this schedule, your child will be too young for you to prepare them for their first dental visit, and by the time they’re 2-3 years old, they should already be familiar with the dentist and the dental office.

However, some children go to the dentist for the first time later than recommended, and many develop fears and biases about dental procedures. Fortunately, there are ways you can make them more comfortable about going to the dentist and practicing good oral care at home.

At Hometown Family Dental Centers, with locations in Fayetteville, Vass, and Raeford, North Carolina, our expert dental professionals have seen every type of dental anxiety and offer these tips to help you prepare your child for their visit to our office.

How can I prepare my child for their dental visit?

Here are some of our top picks for ways you can help your child prepare for a dental visit.

Tell them it’s okay to be nervous

Share with your child that even grownups can be nervous sometimes about going to the dentist, and that’s okay. Encourage them to think of the dentist as a friend who wants to ensure their teeth are as healthy as possible. 

Discuss the benefits of good oral care

A clean smile not only looks good but is also healthy. Teach your child that brushing their teeth is one way to prevent problems that could hurt, like having a cavity filled.

Another way is to go to the dentist so they can check that everything’s okay. Ask your child what question they’d like to ask us about their mouth or what dentists do, and write it down. Having an active role will make your child feel invested in the visit.

Give your child some control

Children will feel more invested in dental appointments if they have more control over other things, too, even if they’re limited. Maybe they can choose a fun outfit or a favorite toy to bring. The more they can do, the less their fear will be.

Stay calm, and answer questions truthfully

If you’re anxious, your child will sense it, worsening the situation. Stay calm, especially if your child is agitated, so you lead by example.

Be prepared to answer your child's questions about the upcoming dentist visit, and be truthful; lying makes you untrustworthy, and your child may become even more agitated. It’s okay to say you don’t know something, but then make it a point to ask us when you get to the office. That way, the child learns the dentist can be trusted, too.

Be present during the visit

If you’re in the room while your child’s in the chair, it can comfort them. If we find a problem, such as a cavity, remind them that we give them something so they won’t feel any pain. You can even hold their hand during the procedure to keep them calm.

Plan something fun afterward

A positive dental appointment deserves a reward. Ask your child what they would like to do after the appointment. It could be as simple as watching a favorite movie or visiting the zoo. 

Want more tips on how to prepare your child for their dental visit? Contact Hometown Family Dental Centers by phone or on the website to schedule an evaluation with one of our dentists.

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