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How to prepare your child for their first check-up

Many parents are unsure of when their child’s first dental check-up should be. Here at Dentalspa we generally start seeing children from 2 years old and find we can start to do more than a check from 3 onward. Of course we will see children from any age, particularly if there is an area of concern or trauma. 

Introduction to the dentist

We find a good time to introduce your child to the dentist is at your own or an older sibling’s dental check-up. This way they can see what happens without the pressure of having an appointment all to themselves. We will then at the end of the appointment try to encourage them to have a small ride in the chair.

Before their check-up

There are plenty of resources nowadays to discuss going to the dentist with your little one. One of the best ones is the Pepper Pig book and video ‘Dentist Trip’. These are good to watch/ read to your child prior to their check-up so we can refer to them during the appointment.

It’s also a good idea to play dentist at home with your child. This will get them used to opening and allowing someone to look in their mouth. You don’t have to go into too much detail, it can be as simple as counting each other’s teeth.

Keep it positive

Parents play a big role in making the dentist a positive and friendly experience. When discussing the dentist it’s always best to use positive language. Often we find some parents may use the dentist as a threat when a child won’t brush. This will not change behavior and will certainly reinforce fear. Also avoid the words needle, drill or telling stories of bad experiences.

If you’re anxious or nervous towards the dentist, a child will always pick up on this. So try and remain in a calm space and know we aren’t going to do anything invasive at a check-up. Some other behaviours to refrain from is;

  • Telling your child they are brave

(Your child is not about to face danger)

  • Bribing your child
  • Telling them it won’t or will hurt
  • Using the dentist as a threat or punishment

By keeping a dental visit a normal experience it can avoid creating anxiety or fear.

A child’s first dental check-up is a special occasion and also a time for a parent to become informed about their child’s oral health. Try to take this advice on board and follow it, we have your child’s best interest at heart. When good habits are formed early it makes dental visits simple and FUN!  

By Ashleigh Lilly

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