Parents should not make a big deal out of the visit. One of the most important thing you can do for your child while preparing for their first dental visit is to make sure you are positive about the experience and don’t impose any of your fears on them. We are experienced in dealing with children with anxiety and can explain treatment procedures in a positive and pleasant manner to avoid any anxious or negative feelings toward dentistry. Please understand that children look to their parents to help determine if a new situation is going to be OK or if they should worry. Saying something as simple as “don’t worry” or “it won’t hurt” introduces the concepts of “worry” and “hurt”. Unfortunately, your child will not process the word “don’t” and will only hear your concern and apprehension.
Explain to your child that he dentist is a friendly doctor that helps take care of teeth. We find that it is more positive and productive to explain to your child that they are going to see your “friend” the dentist.
- Don’t use words like “needle” or “drill.”
- On the day of the visit, say only, “We are going to my friend the dentist, and he cleans and counts teeth.” If your child asks other questions, answer honestly that you don’t know, “…but you can ask the dentist.” Chances are that this is true since rarely do any two children require exactly the same treatment, and it is impossible to predict what your child will require until we meet.
- One should never allow your child to hear stories about experiences of others with dentists – good or bad!
- Do not offer treats or bribes of any kind for “being good”! Bribes tend to indicate to children that something unpleasant is about to happen, and that actually tends to create more apprehension. Think about it. You never have to bribe your child to go someplace nice, so why bribe your child to go to the dentist?
- One should not make promises as to what the dentist “will only do” or, “will not do”. If some other treatment is necessary, then your child will feel that we have been deceitful.
We find that it is more positive and productive to explain to your child that they are going to see your “friend” the dentist. It is helpful to tell them that the dentist will count their teeth, brush their teeth with a special toothbrush, and take some pictures with a special camera. You can also let them know that we have stickers and prizes to give to all our “good helpers”. This positive wording allows your child to be prepared and ready for a positive, fun dental visit.
If your child has any questions that you do not know how to answer, be honest and tell them “I don’t know, we will have to ask your “friend”, the dentist when we get there.”