Many adults are fearful about visiting a dentist’s office for a routine oral hygiene exam or cleaning, so it is understandable that some children may also have these fears. Even kids who are eager to visit the dentist often feel intimidated, anxious or scared once they get to the dental office and sit in the exam chair. As a parent, there are a few steps that you can take to make your child’s first dental visit a pleasant one.
First, you should consider setting expectations with your child about what to expect. Kids may have heard different things from their siblings or peers about going to the dentist, and you may not know what their frame of reference is. It is important to talk about how long the child will be in the chair and what the child is expected to do during this period of time, such as sitting still in the chair.
Talk About the Steps
You can also talk about the different steps that the dentist and hygienist will walk through during the appointment. From x-rays and cleanings to the dentist’s exam, your child will likely feel more comfortable when he or she knows what to expect and understands what is going on. Kids who are simply told to sit in a chair and open their mouths wide can easily feel overwhelmed and scared when they hear dental equipment whirring, experience new smells and have strange people poking their mouth with instruments.
Explain the Importance
Kids may also feel more comfortable visiting the dentist when they understand the importance. For some kids, just telling them that the dentist will spot cavities before they become large and problematic can help. For other kids, explaining the importance of each step can help, such as the fluoride, the cleaning and the x-rays.
Discuss Sensory Experiences
During a dental visit, kids are exposed to new sensory experiences. The cleaning machines can have a strange odor and sound. Kids may feel some pokes and prods, and there may be a bright light shining in kids’ faces. In addition, the smell and taste of the fluoride can also be unfamiliar. When kids are confronted with so many new experiences, it can be overwhelming, but discussing these experiences beforehand can help them to know what to expect.
Meet the Dental Team
As a final step, consider allowing your child to meet the Las Vegas pediatric dentist and his team before the first appointment. Simply taking a brief tour through the office to see the chair and even to watch another patient having an exam can be beneficial. For many children, having a pleasant first experience at the dental office will set the tone for future appointments. You can implement some of these tips to help you make this process pleasant for your child.