How to Prepare Your Child for Their Dentist Visit | Tania Purnomo, M.S., BCBA from Enreach Behavioral Services| Kinderkloud

How to Prepare Your Child for Their Dentist Visit

photo by pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/pain-armchair-dentist-suffering-52527/

It is generally recommended for us to visit the dentist every six months. Unfortunately, taking children to the dentist is often met with challenges. Children might engage in behaviors such as non-compliance, screaming, running away, and more. Imagine your child running away when a dental tool is inside their mouth, how dangerous would that be?

Here are some tips on how to prepare your child for their first dental visit:

1. Show Them What to Expect!

Children might be scared to go to the dentist because they do not know what to expect. Why do they need to go to the dentist? What is going to happen at the dentist? These are questions that they need answers to.

One simple way to teach them about dentists and dental hygiene is by reading a storybook about dentists and what they can expect. There are dozens of books written about going to the dentist. One of many is “What to Expect When You Go to the Dentist” by Heidi Murkoff (Writer) and Laura Rader (Illustrator).

Another way to show them what to expect is by watching videos on what they can expect when they go to the dentist. Dr. Alida Anderson shows children and parents what usually happens during the first dental visit. She goes over how the patient chair moves and the different tools that your child will be exposed to during their visit. You might also consider showing them a video about their favorite character visiting the dentist. In this video, Peppa Pig visits the dentist. Lastly, Dr. Purnima Hernandez showcases specific dentist tools and their sounds in a series of videos that may prepare children for their dentist visit.

2. Bring Something Familiar

Bringing something familiar for your child may help ease your child into going through something unfamiliar at the dentist. Consider bringing their own toothbrush and requesting the doctor to look around in their mouth with it to ease them into the dental procedure. Families might also consider bringing a familiar toy for the child to hold on to when sitting on the dental seat.

3. Finding the Right Dentist

Not all dentists have experience working with children. It is important to find those that know how ease your child into the dental procedure, knows how to build rapport with your child and knows how to react if problem behavior does occur. Dentists that specifically cater to children may also have offices that are decorated in a more child-friendly manner which may make the dentist office less intimidating.

4. Dental Desensitization

In a 2021 study, Cartel and colleagues described a dental desensitization procedure that was used to increase dental toleration for children with autism spectrum disorder. For children who struggle more during dental visits, exposing them to the dental procedure step by step and giving them a reward for tolerating each step can be highly beneficial. Consider consulting a behavior analyst to tailor a specific dental desensitization plan for your child.

5. Know When to Come Back Another Day

It is important to know when to try again another day. If your child is too scared and struggling, it is better to come back another day and not force your child to go through a procedure. Physically restraining and forcing them to sit through a dental procedure might cause them to have a harder time coming to the dentist next time.

Written By: Tania J. Purnomo, BCBA

References:

Carter, L., Harper, J. M., & Luiselli, J. K. (2019). Dental desensitization for students with autism spectrum disorder through graduated exposure, reinforcement, and reinforcement-fading. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities31(2) 1-10. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10882-018-9635-8

dentist, oral hygiene, toothbrush, child, parenting, health, development, teeth

Toddler 18 Months - 24 Months / 18 Bulan - 24 Bulan (Batita) / General Health / Kesehatan Umum / Health / Kesehatan / How to Prepare Your Child for Their Dentist Visit

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