Teaching Children to Enjoy Dental Visits

Many people don’t enjoy dental visits, yet there is an increasing number of children who anticipate their appointments as excitedly as if they were going to the park. These children began their visits at an early age before serious problems occurred. They view their dentist as a friend.

By the age of three, all twenty of the deciduous, or primary, teeth have emerged.  This is the time the first appointment should be scheduled.  The initial visit, while establishing a positive attitude toward dentistry that will last a lifetime, is also essential for the child’s general health.

Healthy teeth contribute favourably to the child’s attitude about himself and the dentist.  The primary teeth should be cared for as diligently as permanent teeth. They serve the same functions and aid in the good health of the permanent teeth.  They affect speech and appearance and enable chewing of foods necessary for good nutrition.  Another reason for taking care of primary teeth is that children who are victims of dental neglect often avoid foods that are difficult or painful to chew.  This results in improper nourishment.  In addition, primary teeth maintain spaces for the permanent teeth and aid in the proper growth of the child’s jaw.
In making your child’s first dental appointment, choose a time early in the morning after the child has had sufficient rest.  Avoid scheduling the initial visit around an emotional experience such as the birth of a new brother or sister.  The dental appointment can further confuse a child already upset by this kind of change in his life.
Most of children’s fear of dental visits originate at home or are based on what parents tell them.  Never threaten a child with dentistry or use it as a means of punishment.  Neither should you bribe the child to cooperate, because he equates bribery with unpleasantness.  Refrain from discussion or display of anxiety in the child’s presence, particularly at the dental office.
A child’s positive outlook about dentistry, early visits, and regular checkups are as important as correct home care.  Parental enthusiasm is the key to ensuring your child’s happiness with the dentist, which will in turn please the dentist with a well-mannered, eager new patient.