Four Ways To Prepare An Anxious Child For The Dentist

By the time your child turns one, or within six months of his or her first tooth, it's time to schedule a checkup with the dentist. At this age, it's common for some children to show a little anxiety about visiting the dentist -- after all, the new surroundings might seem overwhelming. A child who is upset during his or her first checkup can make the process arduous for you and the dentist, not to mention miserable for the child. With the right approach, however, you can prepare your child as much as possible to increase the chance of the first visit going well. Here are four tips to help.

Practice At Home

One simple strategy to prepare your child for the dentist is to practice a "checkup" in the familiar surroundings of home. Arrange the child in a chair that tilts back and show him or her how to have a wide-open mouth so you can inspect it. Use something such as a child's dentist toy set to lightly move around the child's mouth to mimic a dentist's checkup and then give the teeth a brushing. Keep the entire process light and make it fun by talking in an upbeat, friendly tone.

Avoid Discussing Scary Experiences

Even young children are often able to pick up a great deal of information from your discussions, so avoid telling stories about your own dental checkups with your spouse or older children, especially if you've had a significant amount of dental work. While you know that visiting the dentist is nothing to fear, your story might make the experience sound scary and you could unknowingly be getting your child anxious.

Take Your Child To Your Appointments

If you have your own checkup scheduled in the months before your child will visit the dentist, take him or her along. Although the child will likely just stay in the waiting room with your spouse, getting familiar with the new surroundings can be helpful. There are plenty of new sights and sounds that can make a dental clinic seem a little overwhelming to a child, but an earlier visit can help your child feel more comfortable in this environment.

Schedule The Checkup At The Right Time

You know your child better than anyone, so you'll have an idea when the youngster is at his or her best during the day. Some children are cheery in the morning, while others feel best in the afternoon. Try to schedule the first checkup at the time that your child will be rested and not cranky.

For more information and tips, talk with professionals at a pediatric dentistry, such as those at Smile Builders - Robyn Lesser DMD, who work specifically with children to make it a positive and comfortable experience.