boy at dentist

6 Tips To Help Kids With Dentist Visits

wooden dental play kit for kids

boy at dentist

Tips to Ease A Child's Anxiety About the Dentist

Young toddlers and children will often experience anxiety and fear about the dentist, and when this happens, their behavior can greatly interfere with the dentist's ability to examine their teeth. It is not uncommon for toddlers to refuse to open their mouths, or when they do, to bite down during the examination. For this reason, it is important to do everything possible to prepare first time patients for an upcoming appointment. Reading children's books about the dentist, featuring familiar characters going to get their teeth cleaned, is a good way to prepare your kids. 

Here are some other pointers to help make the visit go smoothly-

  • Engage in pretend dental play with your child ahead of the visit. Go through all the basic parts of a routine dental exam like cleaning, flossing, checking for cavities and taking x-rays. If a child knows what to expect, the dental exam will be a piece of cake! Consider investing in some toy dentist kits and engage in pretend play with your little ones ahead of time so they have an idea of what to expect.
  • Find a pediatric dentist with kid-friendly decor so that the child feels more at ease during the visit. Dentist offices that have fun waiting rooms filled with games and TVs playing children's shows are good distractions. Exam rooms with bright artwork and music can also be very helpful.
  • Let your child bring a personal object to the dental visit, such as a special blanket or stuffed animal. Even if you typically don't allow their snuggly things to leave the house, you may want to make an exception for their first trip to the dentist.
  • Make sure your child is well rested and has a full belly before the dental appointment. Don't schedule the visit during nap time or late in the day when young children are getting tired. Also, be sure not to head out to the dentist when your child is hungry. If a little kid is cranky, the visit will be more difficult than necessary.
  • Acknowledge and validate their anxious feelings by listening generously to everything your child has to say and not dismissing their fears as silly or unfounded. Remember that there are plenty of adults who experience anxiety visiting the dentist, too. Let them know it's ok to be scared, but make sure to end the conversation on a positive note. Emphasize all the ways a dentist helps our teeth stay healthy, and that a short visit is a small price to pay for a beautiful smile.
  • A little reward (bribery) can go a long way in helping your children get through the dental visit. Let your child choose a favorite restaurant where you can go grab a bite to eat after the appointment. You may even need to offer up shopping trip to pick out a small toy. Kids can focus on all the fun that awaits after they get through the dental examination and cleaning.


dentist toy kit for kids

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girl brushing teeth

When Kids Should Have First Dental Check-Up

By the time a child turns 1, or within six months of the first tooth eruption, you should take your toddler to the dentist. This is the advice of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. By the time your child is 2, you should begin the routine of dental checkups every six months. Then around 4 years of age,  the dentist will begin doing more in-depth examinations that include taking x-rays to identify signs of cavities lurking between the teeth and in those hard-to-reach molars that have appeared. By the time kids are 5 or 6, they can expect to start losing their baby teeth and, if they're lucky, the tooth fairy will pay a visit!


More About How To Help Kids Take Care of Their Teeth

Helpful Picture Books About Brushing Teeth

Tips For Kids To Brush Teeth Every Day

Children's Stories About Healthy Eating 

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