Childhood memories can have lasting effects throughout their lifetime, especially if the memories are traumatic, painful, or frightening. This is why it is so important for parents to pay special attention to their child's first dental care appointment and make every effort to ensure that it is pleasant and non-threatening. Doing this is the best way for parents to help their child welcome good dental care as they grow up, including visits to the family dentist and good dental hygiene at home.
If your child is ready to begin seeing the dentist for checkups and dental care procedures, consider using the following steps to help your child feel comfortable when receiving good dental care.
Take an exploratory tour
The first step in helping a child feel good about dental care appointments is to allow them to become familiar with the dental care provider and the clinic staff before the visit. To do this, ask your dentist for permission to drop by with your child at a time when someone will be available to take your child on a quick tour and answer their questions. After the tour, parents should take time to discuss the visit with the child and continue to answer any questions that arise in the days between the tour and their first scheduled appointment for care.
Tie each visit to a special reward
While a sugary treat is not a wise reward for children after a visit to the dentist, parents should consider tying each dental care visit to some other type of special reward. A trip to the library or museum, a shopping trip for special dental care supplies, or a lunch date with mom or dad can be excellent reward that will help to make the child see each future dental visit with pleasant anticipation, instead of fear.
Time visits to ensure support
With work and home commitments, parents may consider having the sitter take the children to the dentist. If possible, parents should avoid doing this and instead make plans for mom, dad, or a close relative to always accompany the child. Many dentists offer evening and weekend hours to help parents ensure they can accompany their child to each appointment.
In addition to the steps outlined in this article, you should be careful when selecting your family dentistry provider. Along with choosing one with excellent training and credentials, parents should also spend time considering the equipment and services offered by the dentist and the way in which the clinic staff interacts with each patient before making a final selection.