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How Can I Help Prepare My Child for Their First Dental Visit?

How Can I Help Prepare My Child for Their First Dental Visit?

As a parent, you understand the importance of regular dental visits, especially when it comes to your child’s oral health. But, a lot of kids are anxious about seeing the dentist, especially if it’s their first visit.

Michael Moawad, DMD, and Jessica Listwa, DMD, offer top-notch pediatric dentistry services at Dental Arts of Hoboken in Hoboken, New Jersey, and they want every child to feel safe, secure, and relaxed. If your child is worried or anxious about their upcoming visit, here’s what you can do to help.

Tell them “why”

Take time to discuss the importance of regular dental visits. This can help your child see these visits as a vital part of growing up. Explain how regular checkups are important to keep their teeth and gums healthy — and let them know that regular visits are important for you, too. 

Try “let’s pretend”

If your child hasn’t been to the dentist before — or if their last visit was a long time ago — they probably don’t know what to expect. Take some time to explain the checkup experience step-by-step, showing them how the dentist will look at their teeth, clean them, and count them. 

Then, let your child “practice” a checkup on a stuffed animal or doll. Reading some books or watching some videos may help, too. You can find plenty of resources at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry website.

Make an effort to be matter-of-fact

Feeling anxious about the dentist doesn’t just happen to kids — it happens to plenty of adults, too. If you feel nervous about seeing the dentist, take extra care not to show that anxiety to your child. When talking about your child’s upcoming visit, don’t discuss “shots” or needles, drills, or other treatments that could make your child upset or wary, and never relate any negative dental experiences you may have had.

Instead, use a matter-of-fact approach when talking about their visit, and focus on the benefits that come from seeing the dentist, such as preventing cavities and having a beautiful smile. Help your child view their dentist as a friendly person who will help them enjoy healthy teeth and gums as they grow.

Let your child bring a “friend”

If your child has a favorite stuffed animal or toy, let them bring it along on their visit. Having a familiar friend nearby can help relieve tension and provide comfort to help them stay calm.

Offer a treat

Offer a small treat for afterward, such as a visit to a local park or a game or video afterward. That way, your child will view dental visits as something to look forward to. And, focusing on the treat can help them take their mind off their anxieties.

Be a good role model

Your child looks to you to set patterns and establish good, healthy behaviors. That means if you want your child to visit the dentist for regular checkups, you need to see the dentist twice a year for your own needs. And, by letting your child see you brushing and flossing and making other healthy decisions at home, they’ll be more likely to do the same.

Give your child a lifetime of good oral health

Helping your child feel comfortable about seeing the dentist is a great way to ensure they’ll continue this healthy habit throughout their adult years. To schedule a visit for your child, call 201-429-3641 or request an appointment online with the team at Dental Arts of Hoboken today.

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