As with other healthy habits, the importance of starting young when it comes to developing your child’s oral health routines will come with little surprise. The formation of an early, trusting relationship with a dentist is key to a child’s longer term commitment to their check-ups and routines. However, many are unsure about how to go about taking these first steps. New parents may feel uncertain about when to embark on that first trip to the dentist, and how to go about introducing their child to oral health care. Today we’d like to bring you some tips and suggestions about how you can consider establishing your child’s relationship with their dentist.
In planning when to first take your child to the dentist, it is recommended that you are guided by the appearance of their first milk teeth. At this point it’s a good idea to get their first appointment booked in. This will help them to become familiar with the various sounds and smells they might encounter, and get used to the feelings they might experience. Undertaking this visit sooner rather than later will help visiting the dentist become a normal part of your child’s routine: leaving it too late, or until your child needs more serious work, can be stressful for your child.
It’s also a good idea to prepare your child for their first dental examination. We’re eager to work with you on this. It may be the case that you bring your child along with you when you have your examinations. They can try out the chair and meet the dentist who will work with them in the future. As well as preparing your child in this way, you may consider using books and films to introduce the idea of the dentist. These resources can help explain what the dentist does, and why it is important. Perhaps you could try games involving visiting the dentist too, such as a session where cuddly toys or dolls need to visit for a routine check-up!
It’s important to think about your own feelings about visiting the dentist too. Your attitude about the dentist will influence how your child thinks about it. So, no matter how you feel about the prospect of having a filling or two, your child must not know about this. Children are very adept at picking up on our feelings and emotions, and without realising it, we could fuel a phobia or fear of the dentist if we’re not careful in how we discuss and frame our own experiences. So, when speaking about the dentist in front of your child, use positive language, and focus on the benefits of making your trip.
When the day arrives for your child to make their visit, ensure you make it fun. Think about whether there are any games you can bring along with you, or a reward or incentive for after the visit. This makes the whole visit much more positive for your child, and influences how they will remember their first trip, and prepare for subsequent trips.
Here at Ock Street we are passionate about developing healthy attitudes towards oral health care in children. Establishing good routines at a young age can support a lifetime of positive engagement with dental check-ups. Following the tips above should hopefully enable you to introduce your child to the dentist in a positive and timely manner, ensuring smiles all round.