How to Prepare Your Child for Their Trip to the Dentist

Preparing your child for their first dentist appointment can be a daunting task. For older children, trips to the dentist may already be difficult if they’ve had a negative experience in the past. Southtowns Dental Services offers a welcoming family atmosphere with staff experienced in pediatric care. Our office has embraced countless pediatric patients throughout Buffalo and the surrounding areas and know exactly how to guide a nervous child through their visit.

Southtowns Dental is here to make your experience as a parent easier. We’ve laid out some guidelines to follow when preparing your child for their appointment.

1. Make sure your child is comfortable with regular dental care at home.

Start stressing the importance and practice of routine dental care as soon as your child has their first few teeth. When the child is used to regular cleanings at home they’ll be less anxious during their visit with us.

Introduce your child to the dentist as early as possible. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends having your child seen by a dentist before the age of one. We invite pediatric patients as soon as their first teeth make an appearance so we can ensure everything is coming in properly. Once they have a full set of teeth we advise bi-annual cleanings and checkups.

2. Play pretend at home.

Playing dentist with your child at home is one of the best ways to desensitize the child to professional dental care. Use toothbrushes and mirrors to clean your child’s teeth as a dentist would and let them clean the teeth of their favorite doll or stuffed animal. When your child expects a fun, painless experience at the dentist, your visit will likely go smoothly.

3. Choose a dentist practiced in pediatric dentistry with experience working with children.

It is important to select a family dentist that makes your child feel comfortable. Learn about what they offer in terms of Pediatric Dentistry and if they have any staff members who regularly work with children. Learn more about pediatric dentistry at Southtowns Dental here or meet Dr. Callahan, our resident doctor with an interest in pediatric care.

Our dentists are experts when it comes to walking pediatric patients through their visit. When your child knows exactly what is going on through the course of their visit, they’re less likely to be nervous.

Children over three will develop less anxiety when they are not accompanied by a parent into the treatment room and we advise letting our staff walk them through their visit. While we find children to be more cooperative under these circumstances you are always permitted to come with your child if you prefer to do so.

4. Keep the experience positive.

Avoid bribing and using negative communication. Words and phrases that suggest the visit “might hurt,” and that your child “shouldn’t fuss or cry,” will often cause anxiety. Instead, tell your child that the dentist is simply going to be “checking your smile,” “counting your teeth,” and “making sure your teeth are strong, clean and healthy.”

Rather than bribing your child with a treat if they behave, praise the child for their bravery and surprise them periodically with a sticker or small toy after their appointment.