There are many things that are scary or intimidating to kids, but generally, they are afraid because a thing, person, or place is unfamiliar to them. They often don’t know how to interact with something new, or how it will respond, so they pull back.
Taking a child to the dentist for the first time involves all sorts of new things — a new office, new people, a new type of chair to sit in, new tools, a stranger putting new tools in their mouth — it’s scary! But with the right dentist and when the right steps are taken to ensure that a child is comfortable, a kids’ first dentist visit doesn’t have to be traumatic or scary.
At City Dental Care in Hawthorne, we offer kids dentistry and our staff are passionate about educating children about the importance of dental hygiene. When the right habits are instilled at an early age, kids will be more likely to have healthy teeth as they grow and will be able to enjoy strong oral health when they’re older. If you’re looking for a kids’ dentist, visit us at City Dental Care.
When Should You Bring Your Child to the Dentist?
It may seem odd, but you may need to bring your child to the dentist before any teeth have even emerged from the gums. If they have reached their first birthday, even when no teeth are showing, it’s time to schedule an appointment.
Your dentist will look at your child’s jaw structure to make sure it’s developing properly. They will also look at the gums to determine if teeth are on their way and can get an idea of how they will come in when they do. Having healthy baby teeth is important because they will ensure that your child is chewing properly and getting good nutrition, they play a role in speech development, and they save space for their permanent teeth. Your child’s first dentist visit most likely won’t be a traditional visit with a thorough cleaning, but will focus more on the development of the teeth and setting up dental hygiene expectations for the future.
Preparing Your Child For Visits to the Dentist
Books about kids brushing their teeth or that involve oral habits is a great way to introduce the concept of the dentist to kids. They can see that other kids do the same thing, that it’s good for them, and they can get a visual of how to brush their teeth. When dental practices are introduced through other kids in a non-threatening way, they will have something they can relate to when they actually visit the dentist’s office.
Starting early is another way to desensitize them to this new experience. Let your child pick out a new toothbrush, or even start with a toy toothbrush so that they can become familiar with how it feels and how to hold it. Even when you’re not actually using toothpaste, the practice of holding a toothbrush, brushing back and forth, and doing this in the morning and at bedtime will help them understand that it’s a normal part of life.
Along with practicing brushing their teeth, you can also play pretend. Pretend that you and your child are going to the dentist, have them sit in a reclining chair, and have them open their mouth so that you can look inside. Keep this activity fun and positive, so that it doesn’t feel intimidating or strange.
Take a Tour
When your child is familiar with the concept of the dentist, consider scheduling a tour of the dentist’s office. This will give them an opportunity to see firsthand the office, meet the dentist and hygienist, and experience the room itself, with all of the new lights, instruments, and the chair. They can even sit in the chair so that they can see the room and the people from that perspective.
Bring a Comfort Item
When it’s time for an actual cleaning, consider bringing a comfort item that they can hold during the cleaning. If they are still nervous, you may be able to sit in the chair with your child in your lap. Simply having an item to squeeze and for them to focus on is often a great way to take their mind off of what’s going on in their mouth.
Find the Right Dentist
One of the most important things for kids is that they feel comfortable with the dentist and hygienist. A great children’s dentist will understand what kids need in order to feel safe and secure. The right dentist will make the experience fun and can ensure that the cleaning is as comfortable as possible.
At City Dental Care in Hawthorne, we have been helping kids practice good oral habits for years and it is our mission to ensure that everyone understands the importance of having healthy teeth and gums. If you’re new to City Dental, visit our About Us page to view a video tour of our office. It’s a great way to let your child see the space without having to drive here!
We understand that the dentist can be intimidating for kids, but we have worked hard to create an environment that is warm and welcoming for everyone in the family. Along with pediatric dentistry, we also offer cosmetic dentistry, emergency dental visits, and general dentistry for all of your oral health needs. Schedule an appointment with our Hawthorne team today!