Child at dentist

Five ways to prepare your child for the dentist

16 November 2017

The University of Sydney’s Dr Carrie Tsai explains the importance of children visiting the dentist regularly and how parents can prepare their child for the trip. 

Sydney Health Hacks: How to prepare your child for the dentist

Just like adults, it’s important that children visit the dentist regularly to help keep their teeth and gums healthy, and to develop good oral hygiene habits.

For a child, a trip to the dentist can be scary and overwhelming. The unfamiliar faces, instruments and noises during the experience can cause discomfort and anxiety. And, for a parent, it can be upsetting to see your child in distress.

So how can you help ease this stress and relax your child?  

Here are five ways you can prepare your child for the dentist.

1. Practise at home

Before the visit, role play with your child at home so they can be the patient, the dentist and the parent. Play pretend and let them use a toothbrush to clean the teeth of a teddy bear or doll.

You can even count your child’s teeth while holding up a mirror to show them how the dentist might look and check their teeth.

2. Watch your words

Avoid using off-putting words like needle and pain. Instead, use positive phrases and explain that the dentist helps build healthy, strong teeth. 

3. Bring a cheer squad   

If your child has a favourite blanket or toy, take it along. Having something familiar to hold may make them feel more comfortable, relaxed and safe.

4. Talk to your kids

Read them children’s books about visiting the dentist and use this story time to start a conversation about the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene.

Also, don’t forget to remind them that you visit the dentist too.

5. Be a good role model and stay positive

Make sure your children see you brushing and taking care of your teeth as part of your daily routine.

Be positive. Most fears about the dentist are passed down from parents to children. Stay relaxed and calm about their visit and hopefully they will too.

You never know, your child may surprise you and love the dentist. But, if not, careful preparation can go a long way in making the experience more manageable and comfortable. 

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