It’s only natural for a young child to feel a bit anxious during their first visit to a dentist. All of us have been in their shoes at one time or another. You can help to calm your little one’s jitters by taking him or her to the office for an initial pre-visit. There’s nothing like a little friendly familiarity to dispel anxiety and promote understanding.
What a Dental Pre-Visit Is All About
Think about the first time you slept alone in a dark room. You were probably very young and more than a little afraid. But, over time, you gradually grew accustomed to the environment. Nowadays it’s second nature.
This points out an important fact about human nature: we instinctively fear the unknown. But those fears fade away once the strange and new becomes the old and familiar.
This same principle applies to dentist appointments. Knowing a little bit about the office environment ahead of time helps children to relax while they’re sitting in the dental chair.
This is why a dental pre-visit makes so much sense. Meeting the dentist ahead of time and getting a glimpse of the surroundings is a great way to lay needless worry to rest. Here’s what to expect during the typical pre-visit:
- Your child will meet the dentist and the other members of the staff. Children’s dentistry professionals are trained to work with patients of all ages. They know how to put people at ease with casual friendliness and simple humor.
- Your child will get a brief tour of the office. The dentist will show him or her some of the more commonly used instruments and explain how they work.
- Both you and your child will be able to ask any questions you may have. You’ll probably even get a sugar-free treat at the end of the tour.
Call your dentist’s office ahead of time to arrange the pre-visit. Most practices are happy to accommodate such requests.
Other Ways to Help Your Children Relax during their Initial Dental Visit
Here are some other tips for helping your child feel at ease in the dentist’s office:
- Let them talk: Allow them to express their thoughts and concerns without cutting them off or lecturing them.
- Never belittle them for their fears: People of all ages deal with dental phobias.
- Lead by example: If possible, it’s a good idea to schedule your own dental visits as the same time as your child’s. Seeing you relax during the wait will encourage him or her to do the same.
- Use positive reinforcement: For example, you might promise to take your little one to the zoo or to the movies, so long as they behave themselves during the dental appointment. You can also use verbal reinforcers such as praise.
Dental care is a common and essential part of modern life. By helping your child grow accustomed to the experience, you lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. There’s no better way to reap the rewards that only smart parenting can bring.
About the Author
Dr. Michitti is a skilled general dentist with the expertise needed to care for every member of your family. His range of training includes endodontic and restorative techniques such as implants and root canals. You can reach his office to arrange a pre-visit online or by calling (413) 786-4400.