Going to the dentist for the first time can be a nerve-racking experience for both kids and parents alike. But here’s what not to do:
Dr. Cara Teo, a dentist at White Dental Group, encourages parents to make the visit as casual as possible. “Try not to discuss anything negative about dentistry, and avoid saying negative words like ‘pain’, ‘jab’, ‘pull’, or ‘drill’, she advises, “even between parents. The child is always listening.”
Instead, simply inform them that you are taking them to visit the dentist, and that the dentist will look at their teeth, count them and help to look after them.
She discourages parents from ‘bribing’ the child, such as by rewarding them with sweets or toys in exchange for seeing the dentist – this causes the child to suspect that something scary might be happening.
Want to calm your child’s nerves? The first step is to calm your own – avoid appearing anxious, but act natural and easy-going about the visit.
Then, simply leave it up to the dentist. During their first visit to the dentist, the main objective is that they should feel secure, enjoy the session and be happy to return to the clinic again the next time.
The dentists at White Dental Group will first ask you and your child about their background and medical history. Your child’s teeth will be examined and you will be advised if they require any treatment. Teeth will be cleaned too and an X-ray taken if necessary.
While any dental problems may be attended to, extensive treatment will not usually be done on the first visit unless needed.
Depending on how the child handles his or her first visit, parents can also help to prepare them for subsequent ones.
If everything goes well, parents just need to reinforce on their good behavior. Most importantly, children should be taken to see the dentist when they are not in pain so as not to instill in them the idea that a dental visit will be a painful experience. This way, a lifetime phobia of dental treatment for the child can be avoided.
When to visit? A good time for a child’s first visit is when they are between one, and two and a half years old when all the milk teeth have grown. It’s important to start visits early as parents may not be able to spot dental problems such as crooked teeth or a bad bite, and dentists can help prevent them as opposed to correcting them later on.
From The Finder (Issue 285), July 2017
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