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  • Writer's pictureNaoise McGrath

How to prepare your child for a visit to the dentist

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

Going to the dentist can be a daunting experience for many children, but it doesn't have to be. As a parent, you play a crucial role in preparing your child for a visit to the dentist. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  1. Talk to your child about what to expect

One of the best ways to help your child prepare for a visit to the dentist is to talk to them about what to expect. Explain to them that the dentist will check their teeth to make sure they are healthy and clean. Let them know that the dentist will use special tools to clean their teeth and that they might feel a little bit of pressure or discomfort, but that it won't last long.


2. Read books or watch videos about going to the dentist


There are plenty of children's books and videos that can help your child understand what to expect during a visit to the dentist. Reading a book or watching a video together can help your child feel more comfortable and less anxious about the experience.


3. Role-play a dental visit


Role-playing a dental visit can be a fun and effective way to prepare your child for the real thing. You can take turns being the dentist and the patient and use toothbrushes to clean teeth. This will help your child become more familiar with the process and can also help them feel more in control.


4. Choose the right time for the appointment

Choosing the right time for the appointment can also help make the experience less stressful for your child. Avoid scheduling the appointment during a time when your child is likely to be tired or hungry. Consider scheduling the appointment for a time when your child is well-rested and alert.


5. Offer positive reinforcement


Offering positive reinforcement can go a long way in helping your child feel more comfortable about going to the dentist. Consider offering a small reward for a successful visit, such as a sticker or a small toy.


6. Bring them with you to your dental appointments


This desensitises them to common dental noise and smells so they know what to expect when it is their time to have their teeth checked.


Eventhough the natural response for a parent when their child is anxious or scared is to hold their hand and use phrases such as "don't worry it wont hurt" or "close your eyes the needle is coming" these are infact not helpful and tend to make the child more anxious and scared. It is actually best for the parent to take a seat and say nothing and allow the dentist to take control of explaining the steps to your child as they tend to be more cooperative.


In conclusion, preparing your child for a visit to the dentist doesn't have to be a stressful experience. By talking to your child about what to expect, reading books or watching videos about going to the dentist, role-playing a dental visit, choosing the right time for the appointment, and offering positive reinforcement, you can help your child feel more comfortable and confident about their upcoming visit.


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