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How To Prepare A Young Child For A Dental Visit

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Young children have no concept of what a dentist does for them. Some children fear the unknown, while others object to allowing strangers to touch them or put tools in their mouth. You can avoid crying or screaming episodes by preparing your child in advance. Help your son or daughter to develop a trusting relationship with these tips.

Before the Dental Appointment:

  • Start talking to your child about the benefits of a dentist every day for at least one week before the appointment. Provide an explanation that fits the child's maturity level. Start with something simple, such as: "A dentist takes care of people's teeth. Everyone, even mommy and daddy, go to the dentist."

  • "Play dentist" with each other. Ask your son or daughter to open their mouth wide so you can look inside. If they seem hesitant, open your mouth and let the child play dentist. Kids learn best when new concepts are introduced as play.

  • Brush their teeth twice a day. If they know how to spit, then use a very small dab of toothpaste. This teaches your little one to trust people to work in their mouth.

  • Let them know what the dentist will do. Again, keep it simple. If it is a routine checkup, the dentist will look in the child's mouth, take x-rays to see how the permanent teeth are developing, etc.

At the Appointment:

  • If the dental clinic has toys and magazines, then you won't need to pack anything. Otherwise, take a coloring book or other quiet toy to entertain junior until the dentist can see them. Keep their hands busy with play and they won't sit around thinking about the dentist.

  • Unless the child is an infant, stay in the waiting room when it's time for them to see the dentist. This one is difficult for first-time parents. Children must develop their own trusting relationship with the dentist and dental hygienist. Kids pick up on people's emotions. Dental professionals, such as those at Carpenter Dental, Charles M. Carpenter DMD, and Chas M. Carpenter DMD, especially those that work with children, are cheerful and experienced with this age group. They are really good at keeping the kids calm. Don't worry, the staff will get you if there are any problems, but it's rare.

  • Most kids are happy when the dentist gives them stickers or a new toothbrush. If time permits, you might also want to plan a special activity, such as a visit to the park, to celebrate their first visit to the dentist.

Your son or daughter will excitedly tell you about everything that happened. It's a pleasant experience when you take the time to prepare them in advance.