Introducing your child to the dentist

January 28th, 2016

In order to set your child up for a lifetime of good oral health, it may seem obvious that their healthy habits need to start from a young age. Having a trusting relationship with their dentist, and establishing a routine of regular check-up visits is a crucial part of this. So how should you go about instilling these habits, and preparing your child for their first trip to the dentist?

It’s a good idea to start taking your child to the dentist around the time that their first milk teeth start to come through. This will help to acclimatize your child, getting them used to the feelings, sounds and smells that they will encounter. If you leave it too late, or wait until your child needs more serious dental work, then this could potentially be difficult and stressful for your child.

Preparation is crucial. At Ock Street we recognise that it’s not easy getting a child ready for their first dental experience, and we’re keen to work with you. Feel free to bring your child along when you have your appointments with us. They’re welcome to try out the dentist’s chair, and meet the dentist who will be seeing them. This will help to get your child used to some of the things they might experience. Your positivity about the experience is crucial. No matter how much you might dread the sound of the dentist’s drill, your child must not know about this. Your child will easily pick up on your anxiety, and this could lead them to feel anxious themselves. Focus on positive language, and if you’re really nervous, perhaps see if your partner could take your child instead?

If there are specific things that your child finds difficult, it’s a good idea to work on these specifically. So if, for example, your child finds it uncomfortable when you brush their teeth, you might find it helpful to try and desensitise them to this by doing role play dentist visits when brushing teeth. There are lots of resources that you might also try to help them understand what will happen: for example books and films that feature trips to the dentist. You could even consider replacing a game of doctors and nurses at home with a game of visiting the dentist! A favourite cuddly toy could be the patient.

Lastly, try and make dentist trips fun. Consider bringing a game or activity to play in the waiting room, and think in advance if you could offer a reward or incentive. Perhaps a trip to the park, or a milkshake (not too much sugar mind!) could help take away any residual nerves or concerns?

Here at Ock Street we are passionate and committed to working with children in a way which instils lifelong healthy teeth and great oral hygiene routines. Making those early introductions to the dentist positive is an essential part of this. If you’d like further advice about introducing your child to the dentist, please give us a ring today and we’ll be happy to discuss with you.

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