The percentage of dental anxiety in children and adults ranges from 5.7% to 20.2% depending on age and other factors. It’s not uncommon for a little one to feel anxious and nervous about visiting the dentist. The fear of seeing a dentist can stem from a few different things.
Your child might be afraid of the unknown, fearful of new places, or even intimidated by the loud noises the dental tools make. To prepare your child for their first dental visit, you can do a few helpful things. Continue reading below for our guide on making your child’s first dental visit a good one!
- Use Positive Language
When speaking to your child about a first-time dental visit, it’s important not to give them any reason to feel nervous. Instead of speaking to them about the dentist visit as a negative thing, use positive language. Speak about their up-and-coming dental appointment as a fun and exciting thing.
When they see how excited you are about it, they’ll become excited as well and feel less anxious.
- Read a Story About the Dentist
Scan the shelves of your local bookstore or library and find a children’s book about visiting the dentist. You might even find one or two with your child’s favorite characters in them. These educational books teach a child about what happens when they go to the dentist.
When they see their favorite characters visiting the dentist, feeling nervous, realizing it wasn’t too bad, and having a good experience, your child will be more willing to see their dentist.
- Teach Them What to Expect
Teaching your child what happens during a regular dentist appointment can help ease their fear of the unknown. Not only can you explain to them the importance of seeing a dentist on a regular basis and what the dentist will do during the appointment, but you can also show them. Use pretend dental tools and play pretend as if you’re the dentist.
This gives your child an opportunity to have their “first” dental experience in the comfort of their own home with someone they trust. Learn more about the different treatments and procedures that might take place during this appointment so you and your little one can prepare.
- Bring a Comfort Item
When a child is by themselves in the dental chair, it can feel intimidating. Allowing your child to bring a comfort item from home can help them feel more relaxed. Think about bringing a small blanket or stuffed toy.
You may also want to consider bringing a tablet with headphones for them to listen to or watch something on during the appointment.
Your Child’s First Dental Visit Can Be a Positive Experience
Although your child might feel nervous and anxious about their first dental visit, the experience doesn’t have to be a bad one. With the right guidance, you can make a child’s first dental visit a positive experience! Use all of the helpful information given in this guide above to get started.
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