How to Make Your Kids’ Dentist Appointment Easy & Painless
It is completely normal for your kid to feel a little anxious about their initial dentist appointments. Many pediatric dentists are equipped with proper methods and techniques to make your kids’ dentist appointments that much more comfortable! However, it is important to note that as important as techniques provided in the office are, at-home preparations by parents are equally as important. Here’s a rundown of what you as a parent can expect from your kids’ first dental appointments, as well as how to prepare and find comfortability in the topic of dentistry with them.
Facts about going to the dentist for kids
It’s a pretty well-known fact that regular dental checkups are vital for perfect oral health. This same rule applies to kids! Children especially benefit from regular checkups because their bodies are undergoing tremendous change at a much more rapid pace than adults. Here are some facts about children’s dental health and further steps on how you, as a parent or guardian, can teach them the importance of good oral hygiene.
Tooth Decay is Very Common
This might not come as a surprise, but tooth decay is actually the second most common disease in the US, after the common cold. Tooth Decay/cavities occur from an excess of bacteria in you or your child’s mouth. These can happen from poor oral hygiene and/or an excess of sugary drinks and snacks. Using tooth decay to showcase the importance of good and consistent dental health will allow your child to feel more comfortable around the topic of going to the dentist.
What Happens at the Dentist’s Office?
It’s important to educate and prepare your child about what they will be facing at their next dental appointment. In addition to teaching them the importance of oral health and being a positive example they can learn from, we encourage you to start taking your kids to your own cleaning appointments. This way there aren’t many new surprises when they come in themselves!
If your child has not yet been exposed to a dentist’s office, we recommend you sit them down and show them how a dentist may inspect their teeth – in a manner that may seem non-threatening to them. Your child’s overall familiarity with these things will provide extra comfort when they go in for their checkup, and make for an overall calmer and happier visit. It’s also a good idea to talk them through what the procedure will look like in a manner that will seem less intimidating. While it’s good to be upfront and transparent about some things, it’s equally as important that you don’t use negative terminology such as “hurt” or “drill”.
How to prepare a child for a dentist visit
Along with getting your children familiar with what to expect at their appointment + getting them familiar with the act of oral care, you can also let your child watch TV shows or read books that emphasize going to the dentist. There are many TV shows and books that show some of your child’s favorite characters going to the dentist, like Curious George, Peppa Pig, and Caillou. We always encourage children to bring their favorite toy to their first couple visits as well! If their favorite stuffed toy can help them feel more at ease, then allow them that comfort.
When do kids usually go to the dentist?
We recommend children make their first visit by or before the age of one to establish a better relationship and foundation with their oral care. These visits should continue every 6 months after the initial one! Just like your own teeth, going with such frequency will help prevent any trouble in your child’s teeth. And if anything, continuous exposure builds tons of comfort – which is exactly what you want for your child!
4 Ways to Make Kids Comfortable at the Dentist
As previously mentioned, there are many ways you can provide comfort for your child at and before their dentist appointment. Using positive reinforcement and exposing them to dental elements at young ages goes quite the way. At Huntington Smiles, we value both you and your child’s comfort and want to make this experience as positively memorable as possible. Here are 4 ways our office provides that comfort.
4 Ways Huntington Smiles Can Help
Spaceship Themed Office
From the moment your child walks in, they will stop and wonder what planet they’re on! Our office is quite literally out of this world, following a spaceship theme throughout the entire space. When you first enter, you and your child will be confronted by a waiting room that offers video games. Who wouldn’t love playing video games in the middle of space! We find that this enticing feature allows children to have a level of comfortability and familiarity from the moment they walk in and allows for an overall much more positive experience!
All of our procedure rooms (which continue exhibiting the spaceship theme) are equipped with TVs on the ceilings to ensure optimal comfort for your child. They are fully loaded with Netflix, Amazon Prime & Disney Plus for your child’s viewing pleasure. We are firm believers in watching educational content that may help alleviate some concerns and allow your child to be more familiar with certain concepts displayed in those shows. Most importantly, TV shows are a great distraction and typically lessen children’s fears!
Using Positive Words
We pride ourselves in using terminology that conveys terms in a non-threatening way and encourage you to do the same at home. As thoroughly trained pediatric specialists, we have ways of easing patients into their dental experience in an encouraging way. Our team members as well as our doctors have one common goal, which is to treat your child in the way you want and expect.
The Huntington Smiles team uses several non-threatening words to further comfort. We also try to use language that they can understand – here are some examples of words we use during visits and ones you can implement at home as well:
- Instead of “Drill”, we recommend “Spinning Toothbrush/Water-gun”
- Instead of “Brushing Teeth” try “Make them shiny”
- Instead of “X-rays” you can say “Pictures”
- Instead of “Numbing” try “Putting the tooth to sleep”
Providing Positive Reinforcement
We believe positive reinforcement is the #1 way your child will gain exposure and comfortability with dental visits and procedures. To cater to this approach, your child will receive a bag of goodies after their dental visits here at Huntington Smiles! These will include (based on the season) but are not limited to, a dental magnet, a smaller bag with oral hygiene necessities – including a new toothbrush, and a cool new toy from the prize drawer!
FAQs about pediatric dentists
Talk them through the procedure and offer positive reinforcement and reward good behavior!
- Find & visit a dental clinic that makes your child feel comfortable
- Talk to them about the importance of good oral hygiene
- Avoid negative use of words
- Prepare for their appointments with books or TV shows
- Be a good role model
Check out our blog post 5 Easy Ways to Help Calm Your Kids at the Dentist for more details.
We recommend children make their first visit by or before the age of one, to establish a better relationship and foundation with their oral care. These visits should continue every 6 months after the initial one
Sedation dentistry is the use of a mild sedative (calming drugs) to manage special needs or anxiety while a child receives dental care. We only recommend sedation in extreme cases!
- Let them bring an item that comforts them to their visit
- Practice relaxation techniques before the visit
- Get them familiar with the process
Dentists can be scary! It’s completely normal for them to be a little afraid. People are looking in their mouths while wearing face masks and gloves, there are unfamiliar noises and smells, and to top it all off, there are random tools scattered everywhere. Even adults can find these intimidating at times. So, your child’s reaction is completely valid – But as a parent, it’s important to calm and eventually diminish those fears of going to the dentist
Our Huntington Smiles team is always thrilled to meet new patients so give us a call or shoot us an email to set up that first appointment for your kiddo!
The Road to Your Child’s Comfortability Starts With You!
Early exposure, a good role model to follow, and positive reinforcement go a long way with patient comfortability surrounding dental health. Starting your kids young and making these visits as regularly as possible will do them great justice in terms of familiarity for the future! At Huntington Smiles, we understand that dental visits can be scary so it is our goal to ensure that each child has a positive and fun experience while at the office. Parents, it’s your job to ensure comfort and calmness before their actual checkup. We are committed to building a relationship with every patient and parent based on compassion and trust and will treat your child as if they were one of our own!