Are you the parent or guardian of a young child? Are you concerned about how he or she will handle his or her first trip to the dentist? As you are probably already aware, one of the keys to healthy teeth is the early maintenance of dental hygiene. The key to this is, of course, regular trips to the dentist as soon as your child starts getting his or her teeth in. While pediatric dentistry is designed for children and their unique needs, there are also things that you can do as a parent or guardian to help make these trips easier on everyone. Some suggestions include:
Visits to the dentist should be treats: Your toddler is likely too young to fully understand why you're taking him or her to see a stranger who will want to stick fingers in his or her mouth. This can obviously be a scary thing for your child. To help make things better, you can start getting your child to associate the dentist with getting a treat afterward. It doesn't have to be anything major at first. Find a pediatric dentistry office that doesn't mind if you sit in the lobby with your child for a half hour or so even if you don't have an appointment. Once that time is up, take your child out to get a small bag of chips, a pack of glitter stickers, or whatever other type of reward your child enjoys. In almost no time at all, your child will be excited to go to the dentist's office.
Play dentist with your child: Play can be a good way to help your child understand what will happen during his or her first dental exam. You can purchase toy dental equipment for your child, but you can also use less expensive substitutes such as popsicle sticks or actual toothbrushes. Take turns looking in your child's mouth while you pretend to be the dentist, then allow your child to look in your mouth as the dentist. Having an idea of what's going to happen during his or her pediatric dentistry appointment will help alleviate some of his or her fears during the process.
Don't discuss your dental appointments: Young children can pick up on a lot, even if you don't realize that they're doing so. If you start talking on the phone about your last dental appointment and how you had several cavities and may need a root canal, your child probably won't understand exactly what you're talking about. However, they will likely be able to understand that you think of the dentist as someone who causes pain. Without actually being able to tell you why they may then start to think that you've been lying about the dentist being a friend and a good person. This may then develop into a full-blown phobia of even seeing their pediatric dentistry office. If you want to discuss your dental appointments with another adult, your best option is going to be to do it where your child can't hear the conversation.
For more information and assistance, contact a local pediatric dentistry clinic, such as Dentistry For Children.