You’ve finally gotten around to scheduling your child’s first dental appointment, but now what? You may be feeling a little nervous about this upcoming visit, thinking of all the stories you’ve heard over the years featuring kids who have kicked, screamed, and cried through their check-ups. Here at Accent Smile Center, we’ve experienced our fair share of first-time patients and we’re happy to report that most of these appointments are actually quite pleasant! This is especially true for children whose parents have properly prepared them by helping them understand what to expect from the process. Keep reading below to learn 5 ways to confidently prepare for your child’s dental visits.
Meet kids on their level
Dental offices are full of unfamiliar sights, sounds, and people, particularly for children who have never had a check-up before. No wonder they get anxious about appointments! Begin talking to your child about their upcoming visit ahead of time, and be sure to keep things simple. Too many details can overwhelm younger children and increase their anxiety instead of reducing it. Avoid words that carry negative connotations like “hurt,” “shot,” or “pain.” Go for positive phrases instead, such as “strong teeth,” “healthy smile,” and “brave.”
It’s also not unusual for adults to have their own anxiety about dental visits. That doesn’t go away when you become a parent! The feelings you have about these appointments can have a real impact on your child’s experience, however. Even if you’re not completely comfortable with dentists yourself, try your best to keep any subconscious negativity from creeping into your words, voice, or actions. This will help make the visit feel like something to look forward to rather than fear!
Practice at home
Practicing dental hygiene at home with your child can familiarize them with some of the steps Dr. Gatgens will take during their appointment. Even if they’re too young to brush or floss their own teeth, you can give them an active role in caring for their smile, like picking out a fun toothbrush or choosing the flavor of toothpaste! Set a timer for two minutes and brush together, then finish the job for them to make sure their teeth are clean. There are also many free games online that allow younger children to play “dentist” by interactively cleaning teeth! When kids have developed a regular dental hygiene routine and have a better idea of what to expect from dental appointments, these visits will be more familiar than frightening.
The power of pretend
Pretend play can be a powerful thing! Help combat any anxiety your child feels about seeing the dentist by pretending to be a dentist and acting out a typical check-up. Start by counting your child’s teeth using numbers or letters, then hold a mirror up and illustrate how Dr. Gatgens may look around and clean their teeth. Then switch it up! Let your child be the dentist, brushing your teeth for you or using the toothbrush on a favorite stuffed animal or doll. This can be a great way to get your child comfortable with their appointment ahead of time.
Schedule dental visits strategically
It’s perfectly normal (and age-appropriate) for young children to cry, fuss, or wiggle during a visit to the dentist. Our experienced team is used to this, but it can be frustrating or distressing for parents. If your child gets upset during a visit, you can help them calm down by remaining calm yourself. You can also lessen the chances of this happening by planning their appointment times strategically.
Every child has a time of day when they’re at their best, so take advantage of this and schedule their dental visit during that window! Prep the night before so you can take your time getting to the office. This way neither of you will feel rushed or anxious ahead of their appointment. If your child still takes regular naps, try to plan around them so they won’t be tired or cranky before arriving at our office.
Choose the right dentist for your child’s needs
One of the best ways to ensure a positive dental experience for your child is to choose a dental office and provider that you’re both comfortable with. When selecting the right dental practice for your child, look for one that features the following.
- A convenient location that’s close to your home, school, or work. This makes getting to and from visits a short and easy trip!
- Flexible appointments that fit your lifestyle and keep your stress levels way down. It’s easy to get an appointment with our Dickson office because we do our best to fit these visits into your busy schedule!
- Caring and compassionate providers that have experience treating patients of all ages with the highest level of care. Dr. Gatgens is a highly trained and experienced dental expert who has been improving smiles in the Dickson community for over a decade. Our entire team regularly attends continuing education courses to ensure we have the knowledge and training to offer our patients the best quality and most up-to-date care.
- An environment that isn’t sterile and scary, but instead warm, relaxing, and welcoming. In addition to creating a stress-free atmosphere by maintaining a positive attitude, we offer our patients blankets and pillows, Bose headphones and flat screen TV monitors, and free WiFi. We also provide easy wheelchair access.
Enjoy a rewarding experience with Accent Smile Center
At Accent Smile Center, we’re committed to helping our younger patients feel comfortable, safe, and relaxed throughout their appointment. To keep your child’s dental visit interactive, we encourage them to explore where it’s safe to do so in our office, and will always keep the lines of communication open with both of you for the most rewarding visit possible!