In Australia many children have their first visit to the dentist when they enter their state dental service via the school system. However it can be very beneficial to start your children on dental visits before they enter the school system, especially if the rest of the family also attends a private dental practise. Private dental practices offer children a continuity of care with a single provider and can detect caries and decay before school age, leading to less intrusive treatments.
Let you child watch you getting a checkup
When you head into the family dentist for a checkup, let your small children sit in the room with you and observe the dentist at work. They can observe that the dentist is not causing you any pain or discomfort.
Be sure when discussing your checkup ahead of time to use positive language and not make any jokes that a small child might take the wrong way. Small children are very literal and don't need to be worried about dentist pulling out their teeth on drilling their mouths!
Turn the TV to dentist-themed shows
Many of the popular children's TV characters have done a dental-themed episode or two. Head online and see if your child's favourite character has visited the dentist -- for a few dollars spent on a downloaded show you can avert a lot of worry! Make sure to watch the episode as well, so if your child gets concerned you can echo some of the reassuring dialogue.
Have a pre-appointment chat with your family dentist
Ask your dentist to check your child's teeth, and also ask for the dentist to emphasise to your child the importance of regular dental hygiene. Many future dental problems can be prevented by early habits of dental hygiene including flossing. In many cases the authority of a dentist will carry more weight that that of a parent when emphasising the importance of bedtime tasks like thorough brushing!
Organise a reward outing after the dentist appointment
Make sure to have a fun, non-food outing planned for after your dentist appointment. If your child starts being slightly uncooperative you can always remind them that the longer you take at the dentist, the less time they'll have at their fun outing later.
Getting your child used to regular dental checkups and getting early issues sorted out before school helps set them on a path to long term dental health. By having all of your family's dental outings at the same time, and helping prepare your child for their first checkup, you can ensure the dentist remains a fun and positive experience for everyone in your family. For more tips, talk to a dentist like Whole Health Dentists.