Once upon a time many dentists made quite a bad impression on children. They were often seen as scary people that made your teeth hurt, so it was no wonder that a lot of children (and adults) developed a fear of going to the dentist.
Thankfully times have changed a lot over recent years. Dentists these days are far more compassionate and caring than they used to be. Also dental technology and techniques have moved on greatly so even those with a fear of dentists can go along now and find their fears were completely irrational.
As a parent, encouraging good brushing and flossing in your child is important, but you will also need to book them regular dental appointments for a check-up at least twice-a-year. Explaining to your young child how important these visits are can be done in a positive way. The words you use and how you explain to your child what a dentist does can be made to sound really interesting. If you can make your visits seem like an adventure and treat your dentist as your friend, then your child will be less apprehensive about attending for the first time.
Lets look at some ways of explaining to your child about dentists and what will happen when they visit.
What Does the Dentist Do?
Your child will be curious to know what a dentist does. You can explain that a dentist is like a doctor that is specially trained to look after your teeth. At each check-up, the dentist will ask you to open your mouth wide so they can have a close look at your teeth. Explain that they will shine a bright light into their mouth so they can see each tooth better and to make sure it is healthy.
Some children may become concerned about a stranger putting their fingers into their mouth, so don’t forget to explain before the visit that the dentist may do this, but it is only so that the dentist can feel how strong your teeth are and that they are not loose or wobbly.
Also explain that the dentist may want to use some tools to check their teeth, such as a small mirror to check behind their teeth, a thin scraper to check between the teeth and a wooden spatula to help press their tongue to one side so they can see their gums better.
What will Happen at the Dentist’s Office
Visiting the dentist is one thing, but don’t forget that your child may have to wait in the dental surgery waiting room before their appointment. Young children are not known for their patience so may become bored or frustrated about having to wait. Explain that the dentist has to see lots of people to make sure that their teeth are all OK and that sometimes we have to wait until they have finished seeing the person before us in the queue.
Asking your child to listen out for when the receptionist calls their name will give them something to focus on. Most dental practices supply a good selection of toys, books and games that can help keep children occupied while they wait for their appointment.
Explain that once their name has been called, then they get to go to the dentists office where the can sit down in a really big chair and meet with the dentist for the first time. Family dentists have been trained to look after children so will smile and have a friendly chat with your child and answer any questions they may have before asking them to sit back and open their mouth.
The dentist will also talk about how to use the little sink next to the chair and about using the cup of water to rinse out their mouth after their check up. When a child is visiting for the very first time, most dentists will allow extra time for your appointment so that they can build a rapport with your child and show them all the tools and equipment they will be using during the check-up.
After the check-up has been completed, your dentist will more than likely praise your child and give them a reward such as a sticker that they can proudly display on their coat or top. This will encourage your child to want to come back and be happy about their future appointments.