Small children tend to have many fears that come from situations that are new and unfamiliar. Going to the dentist for the first time can be a traumatizing situation if they are unprepared and feel anxious and scared.

If your child is at an age where you can prepare them and help them understand what the dentist is all about, then take some time to get them comfortable with the idea. Here are five tips on how to prepare your child for their first dental experience!

Tip #1: Be Positive

Going to the dentist for the first time can have your child feeling jittery, nervous, and unsure. Be positive when you talk about the dentist. Stay upbeat and happy when you chat or answer questions that your child may have about her or his visit.

If possible, share your experience with the dentist in a non-threatening and optimistic way. This will help your child relax and keep him or her from getting too upset by the prospect of this new situation.

Tip #2: Prepare with Videos & Books

There are so many resources available to families today when it comes to teaching their children about new places and experiences. Pick up a book from the library, purchase one, or check out videos of favorite cartoon characters going to the dentist.

This gives your child a positive and tangible connection with the experience, making the idea of visiting the dentist less scary and more familiar.

Tip #3: Pretend Play at Home

Children love to be imaginative and learn about the world around them through play. Take a break from playing house or kitchen and play dentist. Pretend to give your child an exam with a toothbrush by showing him or her how to brush and floss. Count your child’s teeth, tell her or him to open up wide, and talk in a calming voice.

When children can connect their imaginative play to a real-life situation, it makes that situation easier to handle when they are a part of it.

Tip #4: Wait Until the Day of the Appointment

You may be excited or nervous to share the information with your child about her or his appointment. The best approach is to wait until the day of the appointment to tell her or him about it. This alleviates overthinking and anxiety on the child’s part. It also gives her or him a chance to ask you questions and allow you to answer positively, which gives him or her an open and calm mind going into the appointment.

Tip #5: Bring Friends!

Does your child have a favorite toy, stuffed animal, or blanket?  Bring the friend with to the appointment. This helps children feel safe and secure to have a familiar object with them. They can also help tell you how they feel before, after, and during the appointment by projecting their emotions on their friend.

The more you can help your child feel relaxed, safe, and happy, the easier his or her first appointment will be! At The Complete Dentistry of Orland Park, we make sure our friendly staff and dentists make your children feel comfortable the entire time. We know each child reacts differently during their appointments and we are prepared to do what we can to highlight dental health and visits in a positive way!