Preparing Your Child For A Dental Visit: 10 Tips

A visit to the dentist can be frightening for a child. It may be the child's first visit, or they might be too young to remember going to the dentist before. Here are ten simple ways you can help ease your child's fears and prepare your young patient and yourself for a trip to the dentist. 

Read Books

Check out some books about dental visits from the library and read them before you even mention the upcoming dental visit. This gets your child comfortable with the concept before it gets personal. 

Play Dentist

Play a game with your child where the child gets to pretend to be the dentist. Let your child practice on you or stuffed animals. This is not only education but also allows the child to view the dentist as a helpful person. 

Encourage Sleep

Shoot for an early bedtime the night before a dentist appointment. It is easier to be calm when you've had plenty of sleep. 

Eat a Light Breakfast

Serve your child a light breakfast the morning of the appointment. Toast with a piece of fruit is a good choice. You don't want your child to be feeling hungry or sick in the dental chair. 

Keep it Quiet

Try not to mention any potentially scary details to your child. Your pediatric dentist may have ways of calming young patients, but it's up to you to keep the secrets. For example, many pediatric dentists are able to give numbing injections without the child even knowing there was a needle involved. 

If you can, avoid mentioning the dental visit to older siblings. They are notorious for scaring littler patients. 

Teach Deep Breathing

Guide anxious children through meditative breathing techniques. Have your child take a deep breath, hold it for two seconds and then slowly release it. 

Have Distractions

Bring toys, books, video games or whatever will ensure that your child has no time to sit in a waiting room and contemplate the upcoming appointment. 

Bring Sunglasses

The dentist's bright light often bothers little eyes. Bring along a pair of familiar sunglasses. 

Choose a Stuffed Animal

This is an appropriate time for a bedtime lovey to leave the house. Take your child's most comforting stuffed animal. Many dentists will check the stuffed animal's teeth first so the child can see what is about to happen. Your child can cuddle the toy for the rest of the visit. 

Promise Rewards

Figure out what your child wants most and offer it as a reward for a successful dental visit. This can be anything from a lunch date with you to a small toy, as long as it is something the child can look forward to. 

Dental visits with kids can be stressful, but there are steps you can take to create a positive experience.