Pediatric Dental Visits: Tips for a Positive Experience

A trip to the pediatric dentist should be a positive experience for a child. Start by explaining to your child that dentists are community helpers that work keep them strong and healthy. Children often talk about community helpers in preschool and early elementary school and know these are safe people they can trust. Here are some other tips for building a positive relationship between children and dentists.

A Dentist's Office for Children

Pediatric dental offices typically offer an environment designed to make children comfortable. Rooms may be decorated with bright colors, animals, or fun designs. Waiting rooms often feature a variety of toys. They may even have activity tables or video game consoles available. A fun environment makes the dentist's office a treat for children to visit. They will remain patient and entertained until it's their turn and may even beg to return sooner than needed so they can play more.

Preparing for a Visit

Take your child to the office for a visit before the appointment. This is especially important before their first visit, but the reminder can also help put children at ease who have been to the practice before. Point the office out when you drive by. Say, "Oh, look! There's Dr. Berry's office. Remember playing a video game there before you got your teeth cleaned last time? We'll do that again next time."

Read books that feature characters going to the dentist in the weeks before your child's appointment. Watch videos of dental procedures with older children so they know what to expect. Take time to prepare children before the appointment instead of dropping the news on them at the last minute.

Children only see dentist twice a year in most cases. Talking about the dentist frequently keeps the experience fresh in their mind. This way it stays a familiar and comfortable, experience from visit to visit.

Access Your Own Feelings

Ask yourself how you feel about the dentist. If you have a phobia, you don't want your child to pick up on it. The most important thing you can do to help children feel comfortable at the dentist is to control your own fears, stay calm, and present a positive attitude. This is especially important during a child's first visit. If you're anxious and scared, it's possible that you'll transfer those feelings to your child - even without meaning to. Embrace the saying, "fake it until you make it."

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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What To Expect During a DENTAL VISIT

On your first visit, your dentist will take a full health history. On follow-up visits, if your health status has changed, make sure to tell your dentist. Here’s what you can expect during most trips to the dentist.

  • A Thorough Cleaning – a dental hygienist or dentist will scrape along and below the gum line to remove built-up plaque and tartar that can cause gum disease, cavities, bad breath and other problems. Then he or she will polish and floss your teeth.

  • A Full Dental Examination – your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and mouth, looking for signs of disease or other problems.

  • X-Rays – X-rays can diagnose problems otherwise unnoticed, such as damage to jawbones, impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts or tumors, and decay between the teeth.