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Preparing Your Child for a Dental Visit

Saying less might work better while preparing your child for the dentist.

Q: I have just scheduled my 4-year-old daughter for her first dental appointment. Do you have any suggestions on what to tell her to prepare her for the visit?

A: The adage "less is more" applies well to this situation. Parents often feel it is their obligation to fully inform their children of what will happen at a dental visit. This, regrettably, is unwise when dealing with young children. Keep in mind that fear is a learned response. If you tell your child that you are afraid, or even offhandedly say something like, "I'm glad it's your turn to go," this will create dental anxiety for your child. Similarly, if you mention needles and drilling, your child may need a sedative just to get him or her into the waiting room!

Tell your child that the dentist is someone who makes sure your teeth are okay and counts how many teeth you have. That will suffice for most children seven and under. Older children can sometimes be given more information, but they will rarely need it due to their own past experiences at the dentist.

Most dentists have had training in child psychology in dental school. Some have additional knowledge gained from residencies or continuing education courses. A general dentist that has experience with children can usually treat them without a problem. A pediatric dentist, a specialist who treats children and adolescents, may be a better choice for some children.

Keep your family's dental health in check. Call us at 1-866-970-0441 to find a family dentist today.

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