A trip to the dentist can be traumatic for a child if they are not ready, and their very first one can be the worst. Dealing with dental anxiety is tough enough with adults, but how to you get your child ready for their very first trip to the dentist?

The professionals at Rickard Dental, a busy dentist in Bankstown, have several helpful tips for you and your family. It’s all about setting the stage with positive attitudes and taking an optimistic approach.

Start Early

Obviously, you have to wait until your child actually has teeth before scheduling that first trip (usually around the 1st birthday mark). Even though it might seem a little silly to take them to the dentist for just one or two teeth, it is still a smart thing to do. Not only does it mean that a dentist can detect any developing problems right at the start, it creates a habit of experience that will make later appointments easier.

Kids that are around a year old (or even younger) are not going to have any negative associations with a dentist, so you probably won’t have to do much else to prepare them if you are starting at this stage in life. If you are planning your first appointment later, there are a few more things you should consider. These can also be helpful tips for managing dental anxiety for kids as they get older and have a few appointments under their belts already.

Kid-Friendly Dentist

Not all dentists are great with kids, and one that is serious and professional can be intimidating to some children.  If nothing else, it can make the visit boring and uninteresting, which won’t set a good precedent for future check-ups. Find a dentist with a fun demeanor and a playful office if you want to create the right first impressions with your kids.

Be a Good Role Model

Children look to their parents to see how to act and how to respond to things. Dealing with the dentist is no exception. If you talk positively about the dentist and taking care of your teeth, they will also have a good attitude towards it.

Have they seen you go to your own appointment, cheerfully and without complaint? That can help quite a bit. You could even bring them to your own check-up appointment so they can see what goes on, and how easy it is. Just make sure you get the dentist approval before you bring a small child to sit in with you.

Get Them Ready

You don’t just spring an appointment on a child and expect them to be fine with if. Granted, if you are starting very early, they may be too young to really worry about where they are going. But for an older child, it can be scary to head off to some mysterious appointment.

Give them lots of information about what’s going to happen, and how easy it will be. Answer any questions that they might have about it. Younger kids may do well reading a few positive picture books about the dentist too.

Doing a little dentist make-believe play can be fun to set the stage too. Take turns being the dentist and the patient, or let your child play dentist with a stuffed animal. Anything to add familiarity to the idea of going to the dentist.

Practice Good Dental Health

By this we mean, keep teeth healthy at home with good oral hygiene. A positive and pain-free first appointment will set the stage for a good attitude later. Having to deal with cavities or gum infections right from the start will probably put a child off dental care for the future.

Clean teeth mean an easy and trauma-free first dentist appointment. Brush with a quality toothpaste at least twice a day, and make sure they are using proper technique (if they are old enough to be doing their own brushing).

Your child’s first dentist appointment doesn’t need to be fearful or marked with tears. Try a little pre-planning to keep them comfortable and aware of what’s going on. And remember, it’s worth the effort to make it pleasant now so that your child has a good relationship with the dentist as they get older and have to make appointments on their own.