Moffitt Restorative Dentistry

7 tips to prepare your kid for a trip to the dentist

Dec 11 2015

Few people rejoice at the idea of going to the dentist, but the idea of being poked and prodded in the mouth can be an especially hard sell for young children.

While it’s perfect normal for kids to be anxious, notes the Cleveland Clinic, it’s important for parents to keep their cool and convey calm. 

“Parents play an important role in making their child’s first dental office visit a positive experience,” says the Cleveland Clinic. “Any anxiety displayed by parents will be picked up by the child.” 

If the mere mention of the dentist makes your kid break out into a cold sweat, try these seven tips from Cleveland Clinic, Parents, POPSUGAR and the American Dental Association (ADA): 

1. Role play. Play a game of pretend where you are the dentist and your child is the patient – and then switch roles. Count teeth, hold up a mirror to look at molars and try to floss. The key is to help your child become comfortable with the routine of an actual office visit. 

2. Read picture books. There are plenty of good books out there to demystify the dentist’s chair. Parents magazine recommends Spongebob Squarepants’ “Behold No Cavities! A Visit to the Dentist” and Dora the Explorer’s “Show Me Your Smile!: A Visit to the Dentist.” 

3. Find a pediatric dentist. Many dentists specialize in working with young children and are adept at easing dental anxiety. To find a pediatric dentist near you, try this tool from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. 

4. Use simple language. Be straightforward when you answer your child’s questions, but keep details to a minimum. “This is not the time to share your discomforts with visiting the dentist,” notes POPSUGAR. “Keep your own personal stories of root canals gone wrong and cracked teeth to yourself.”

 5. Don’t bribe your child. Don’t promise a reward for going to the dentist, experts note, because it reinforces the idea that it’s a big, scary deal. 

6. Feed your child. “A hungry child is not a happy patient,” notes the ADA, which suggests feeding your child a light meal before the dentist’s appointment. 

7. Don’t overpromise. It’s important to stay positive, but don’t give your child false hope. “Avoid saying that everything will be fine, because if you child ends up needing a treatment, he might lose trust in both the dentist and you,” one experts tells Parents magazine.

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