Maintaining good dental care for your children is an important part of keeping them healthy. Kids go to the doctor since the moment they are born, so there isn't always anxiety about their check-ups with the doctor. However, by the time they are old enough to see a dentist, they may feel uncertain and scared. Prepare your child for their first dental visit by helping them understand what to expect, and explaining why it is so important to their teeth.
Keep the teeth and mouth clean. Many pediatric dentists recommend taking your child to the dentist around his or her first birthday, or as soon as the first tooth comes in. The best way to prepare a baby for a dental appointment is to keep their mouths clean. Run a washcloth over the gums, and use a small infant toothbrush or your finger with a spot of infant-safe toothpaste to clean any emerging teeth.
Use dramatic play. Take turns with your child pretending to be the dentist and the patient. If your child has dolls or stuffed animals, pretend to take them to the dentist. This will allow him or her to take on many roles, including that of the dentist, the parent, and even the patient. Use props such as toothbrushes, dental floss, flashlights, and small cups to practice rinsing and spitting.
Talk about teeth. Share as much knowledge as you can with your child, so he or she understands the importance of keeping their teeth healthy. Point out the work they do in helping to chew food, and have them practice smiling into mirrors so they can see and appreciate their teeth.
Set a good example. Children learn from what you do, not what you say. Invite them into the bathroom with you when you brush and floss. Open up your mouth and let them count your teeth. Making oral care a part of your daily routine so they are comfortable caring for their own teeth.
Be encouraging. Allow your child to talk about anything that scares him or her about the dentist. Help your child feel secure by assuring him or her that you will be present during the appointment. Let them choose a favorite toy, stuffed animal, or blanket to take for extra security. Explain words they may hear at the appointment such as fluoride, cavity, gums, and x-ray.
Visit the dentist before the appointment. Many dentists will accommodate their new patients, especially the young ones. Stop in and let your child meet the dental staff and check out the waiting room. This way, it will feel a little more familiar when it is time for the appointment