When it comes to having a baby, most expectant parents dream about major milestones in their child’s life, like crawling, babbling and first steps. Most are probably not thinking about the mundane tasks that accompany being a parent, like bedtime and routine check-ups and dental visits. Yet at some point, all children will need to experience their first trip to the dentist, and it may be a little bit scary. However, talking to your little one about what they might expect before the appointment happens may remove some of that fear.
Make the Unknown, Known
Much of the fear of the dentist comes from a lack of understanding. Little ones have no context for what a dentist is or what they do. Take some time and walk your child through what they might see and experience at the dentist. Show them pictures of dental turbines, picks and surgical masks, so when they see them in use during their visit, some of the mystery is gone.
Introduce Them to the Dentist
Modern technology has made it easy to learn about healthcare professionals before ever stepping foot in an office. Show your child pictures of the dentist he or she will see in advance, so at the appointment, it won’t feel like they are meeting a stranger. Facial recognition can play a powerful role in helping alleviate anxiety.
Recognize Their Feelings
Instead of trying to push your little one’s feelings aside, recognize them and work through them. Ask questions to learn how they are feeling before the appointment and honor that those feelings exist. If they are nervous, assure them that you will be there the whole time to support them. If they are excited, encourage that enthusiasm. Just because a child’s feelings may not be your own doesn’t mean they are any less real.
New experiences can be troublesome for little minds, which means they can be troublesome for adults too. Taking the time to prepare your child before visiting the dentist may help to ensure for a freak-out free first experience that establishes a new normal moving forward.