Preparing for Dental Visits with Your Child
How can I prepare my child to see the dentist? My child is nervous, I’m nervous, what can I expect?
These are common questions we hear from parents. The start of dental visit actually starts at home with parents.
Our first tip is to be positive about the dentist. Studies show that parents can pass on their dental anxiety to their children. Your child picks up your energy and attitude. Saying “We’re visiting Dr. Alvarez, our friend” versus saying “You’re going to get a shot from the dentist” can place a positive or negative frame around the dentist. You can help your children develop trust and confidence in the new dental environment, experiences, and people you are introducing them to. When parents are relaxed, the child is relaxed too.
Children are nervous about the unknown so one of our tips is to read together. Our practice has a children’s library of dental and tooth books for our curious young minds. Books about going to the dentist can help prepare your child for what they can expect, can teach them dental words that they will hear, and teaches them why it is important that they take care of their teeth.
Here are two of our favorites. The first is a read-aloud to “Going to the Dentist.” When Jake and Jessie Judd visit the dentist, he checks their teeth and cleans them, fills in Jake’s cavity, and tells them to take care of their teeth by eating healthy foods and brushing their teeth properly.
And here is one about a nervous girl named Rosie who goes and sees Dr. Zoey. “My First Visit to the Dentist” is a story that shows young children what they should expect when they go to the dentist for the first time.
Another great video that playfully and realistically shows what to expect is this Sesame Street episode “A Trip to the Dentist”
Imitation and pretend play are important ways that children learn about the world. Being able to pretend also helps children cope with fears and anxieties. This is why our practice has a dental play station with realistic teeth and dental tools and several stuffed animal friends like Ollie, Al E Gator, and Magi Z Dragon to practice brushing on.
Talking about real experiences like going to the dentist, showing pictures of Dr. Kim and Dr. Alvarez, showing pictures of the Plover Pediatric Dentistry office can be a great assurance to children and impact their level of comfort going into the dental visit.
Play Make Believe with your Child. You can encourage pretend play by asking questions, asking your child to count your teeth, offering props, can also be a positive way to prepare for the dentist.
Another way you can help the dental office prepare for the visit is to share with us about your child’s hobbies, favorite foods, or any special interests can help us prepare to personalize the visit for her. Also, parents know their children best, so please let us know beforehand about any information that might be helpful for the visit.