Getting Your Kids Started Early at the Dentist

Getting Kids Started Early at the Dentist
Are you scared of going to the dentist? Many people feel anxious when they think about going to the dentist – even for a teeth cleaning. So how does this anxiety come to be? Some people have just had negative experiences with dentists they just didn’t click with, but for others, the anxiety can be blamed on the lack of visiting the dentist for checkups when they were youngsters.

Help Your Child Look Forward to the Dentist

So, how can you help your child avoid the mindset that the dentist is scary? There are several things that you can do to prepare your child for their first visit.

Start early. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, you should start taking your children to their family dentist or a pediatric dentist before their first birthday, or within 6 months of the first tooth making its appearance. At this first visit, you can expect the dentist to inspect your child’s teeth for signs of problems – including decay and developmental issues. They’ll also explain how to care for your child’s teeth, and answer any questions that you may have.

Any time you need to go yourself, consider taking your child with you. This way, they can get used to the office, the dentist, and the staff. Your child will be able to start building relationships at the dentist’s office that will grow as they do.

Talk with your child. Let your child know that they’ll be visiting the dentist – explain what will happen as simply as possible. The dentist will be looking at their teeth, counting them, and taking pictures of them. Don’t use any negative words that will scare your child, such as “needle” or “hurt” to avoid causing any anxiety. You may even consider playing dentist with your child to help them prepare for the experience. If they have any questions, be sure to answer them the best you can while being sensitive to your child and what might scare them. Books or videos about going to the dentist may also help explain the dentist and prepare your child for their upcoming visit.

Look for the right dentist. A good pediatric or family dentist can make all the difference when getting your child’s oral health off on the right foot. Does the dentist do anything to put your child at ease? Do they encourage your child by rewarding them for good behavior during the visit, or for taking good care of their teeth? You’re going to want a dentist that is gentle and caring for your child, so make sure you look at dentists that are good with children.

Pay attention to your attitude about the dentist. Many adults don’t like the dentist, so if you’re one of those people, try to curb your dislike or anxiety. Try to avoid talking about how the dentist scares you, or about anything bad that may have happened to you at the dentist. Fear can be transferred through stories, so be sensitive to your child and make sure that your attitude is not affecting theirs.

Your child’s oral health is important, so do everything you can to make their first experience at the dentist as quick and easy as possible. Of course, it’s possible for children to develop fears on their own, but try not to contribute to that fear. Give the dentist a chance to prove themselves and build a strong relationship with your child.

Have any questions about children’s dentistry or your child’s first visit to the dentist? You can get in touch with Drs. Steinbach and Van Gorden at 970-279-5647, or by visiting us online at!