We have all heard, witnessed, or experienced stories of children screaming and throwing tantrums when they first see the dentist. This can be a very scary time for little ones and stressful for parents. With a little preparation and patience we can help our little ones feel more comfortable and ready to get through their first dental visit and many more for years to come:
5 Tips to help make the first trip to the dentist positive:
1. Writing a letter to the dentist: Have your child write a letter (if they can’t write yet you can scribe for them and they can decorate it) to the dentist. Tell them to express any concern they may have or to ask questions. This is a great opportunity for them to think about what they may encounter and how they will feel when they are there. You will be able to learn what they may find frightening and then you know where your focus needs to be.
2. Use your parent intuition: There is nothing more true or real than the saying, “listen to your gut.” As parents we know our children best and can anticipate what may or may not work for our children. For example, the person in the opening story may not have listened to her gut that today was not the right day for her child to be at the dentist. Possibly he hasn’t been sleeping well or there was something else going on in his life that would make the stress of going to the dentist push him over the edge. Also, if you don’t feel that the dental group you have selected is the best fit for you, find another one. There are many out there to choose from, and no one is going to be offended if you need to shop around a bit.
3. Lavender: Yes, Lavender oil can be used to help calm you and your child for the first trip to the dentist. Essential oils like lavender have been used for centuries as a way to stabilize emotions. Some people use Lavender in their homes either topically through oils or by diffusing it into the air. If it can help bring serenity at home it can aid in the relief of being overly nervous at the dentist office.
4. Know names: If you know the names of the people who work at the dentist office, your child may feel more at ease. If your child feels at ease, she is more likely to remain calm throughout the exam. This safety comes with the fact that by using the receptionists and hygienists names makes it seem like you are friends with these individuals and that you are comfortable with them. The more comfortable you appear to be with the situation, the more likely she is to feel comfortable as well.
5. Super shades: When I take my daughter to the dentist, they place sunglasses on her to help protect her eyes from the bright lights in the office. Why not bring a pair of “super shades?” As long as your dentist will allow this, your child can pick out his favorite pair of sunglasses just for the occasion. Not only will these shades help protect his eyes from the bright lights, but possibly they will add a little bit of security during the exam.
There are many ways to help your child feel comfortable at the dentist. Like the second tip states, “use your parent intuition.” Only you truly know your child and can determine what will work best for your child. With a little preparation, things can go very well!
Aaron Schulman has worked in the dental industry for years, and currently works with 5th Avenue Acquisitions who specialize in helping dentists when they have to sell a dental practice and he is happily married to Jennifer. They are the proud parents of 3 wonderful girls: two of them are getting ready for their first visit to the dentist, and their oldest has been going to the dentist for years, so he recently researched a lot about this topic to make the best for their youngest daughters and to brush up on some ideas to make their visits more of a positive experience.
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