Mother and Baby

How to prepare your child for a trip to the dentist

How to reassure and familiarise your toddler with the dentist’s chair so she knows what to expect on D-day.

While we’re all guilty of prioritising absolutely anything at all over a dreaded dentist check-up (gulp), appointments at your toddler’s age are really just about making sure everything’s progressing OK – and they give you a chance to ask any questions about looking after her teeth.

If she’s nervous about the visit, add these tasks to your to-do list.

Expand Image

1) Take her with you

Bring your child to your own check-ups so she gets used to what happens – although maybe not if you’re in for a heavy-duty root canal.

"You don’t want to frighten her, but a general appointment can familiarise her with the sounds and smells," says Karen Coates, dental advisor for The British Dental Health Foundation.

Expand Image

2) Get reading

Browse Amazon for books like Freddie Visits the Dentist (definitely not as sinister as it sounds…) to introduce the idea to your toddler.

"Most libraries also have titles about this using child friendly characters," says Karen.
Expand Image

3) Book a tour

Phone the surgery and see if a dental assistant has time for you to come in with your toddler before his check-up.

See if a dental assistant has time for you to come in with your toddler

"They can show him things like the water spray and how the chair works, so nothing’s a surprise," says Karen.
Expand Image

4) Make her comfortable

When the big day arrives, gauge how your toddler feels – so if she wants to sit on your lap in the chair, that’s totally fine.

"Most dentists will also let kids have a look in the mirror and things like that," explains Karen.

"At the end of the day, they want her to be as happy as possible."
Expand Image

5) Use positive language

If your child’s having treatment, certain language may help her feel more relaxed.

"Realistically, most children know what injections are, but it may be good to call it “cream” or “liquid” and say something like it “makes your tooth go to sleep so we can get the bugs out”," suggests Karen.

Expand Image

6) Change companion

If you feel flustered, your toddler may pick up on that.

"If you think it might be better for her to go with someone else, perhaps dad or another relative, then do consider that," says Karen.

Really struggling? It’s no problem to reschedule.


Meet the expert: Karen Coates, dental advisor for The British Dental Health Foundation.

What are your dentist tips for kids? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

Now read:

How dentists look after their tots’ teeth

A third of children don’t brush their teeth every day

 

Related Content

Related content: