5 Tips for Preparing Your 5-Year-Old for the Dentist Visit
We can’t stress this enough, it is important to look after your child’s teeth from a very early age. Even though most children don’t start teething until they’re 6 months old, it is important to establish good oral habits early on. Some may also argue that dental care for children is not necessary because the milk teeth will eventually fall out. But you still need to instil good oral hygiene habits in your children, so they don’t end up losing their permanent teeth as they grow.
Keeping your child’s gums and teeth clean will protect them from tooth decay, infection, and pain. Decayed temporary (baby) teeth can also cause damage to the underlying permanent (adult) teeth. Thus, it is important for children to regularly brush and floss their teeth to prevent this from happening. What’s more, babies can also be affected by tooth decay when their first set of teeth arrive. The first signs of decay can appear as white spots or lines on the front teeth. If children lose their baby teeth early, it can cause problems of crowding when their adult teeth erupt later.
According to the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, every child should visit the dentist either when their first tooth appears or latest by the age of 1. The dentist will teach the parents and caregivers how to take care of their children’s teeth to prevent their teeth from tooth decay. For example, a prevalent cause of cavities in babies is falling asleep with a bottle of milk. The Child dentist can guide the parents on why it’s important to encourage children to drink from a cup as they grow older and how to brush children’s teeth to stay cavity-free.
Here are 5 tips for preparing your 5-year-old for the dentist
1. Addressing common fears
Fearing going to the dentist is not that uncommon. Studies have shown that 1 in 10 children have anxiety before going to the dentist. In fact, they may even be afraid of the dentist. The fear can be because of a variety of reasons. For example, most children may associate medical visits with the potential for pain. However, this may vary from child to child. While some children may get a bit nervous before going to the dentist, other might throw a full tantrum over it.
Fear of the unknown
It’s understandable for children to be nervous when a dentist examines their teeth. After all, dentists use tools that they have never seen before. However, familiarizing children with the dental tools and what they are used for will help tackle the fear of the unknown at the dentist. Ask your dentist to show them the dental tools and tell them what they’re used for to take the fear out.
Fear of losing control
Lying in a dental chair while the dentist examines your teeth can cause anxiety. However, teach your child that they can always ask the dentist to stop when they’re feeling anxious or scared.
Fear of having their tooth pulled out
In some cases, tooth extraction is necessary. However, before pulling any teeth out, your child will be informed about it. You can ease your child’s fears by having the pediatric dentist explain the whole process to them. Moreover, avoid using scary words like “painful” and “shot”.
Fear that their teeth may fall out
Dental cleaning involves a lot of scraping and polishing to remove any tartar or plaque from your child’s teeth. Your child might feel scared that their teeth might fall out because of the scraping. Tell them that their teeth are very strong and will not fall out that easily.
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2. Role-playing and pretend play
Children love role-playing and playing out a dentist can help calm their nerves. Role-playing what will happen at the dentist is a great way to help them overcome anxiety. And that going to the dentist is nothing to be scared about. Practice saying hello to the dentist with a firm handshake and smile so they can connect positively with the dentist.
You can also role-play with them by having them lie down on their back on the couch. Ask them to open their mouth and look around inside. Tell them why the dentist needs to do this and what they look for in the mouth, for example, cavities. Also, consider reading picture books that show children going to the dentist and having a positive experience. You can role-play as characters from the book and perform with the rest of the family. The patient can also just be your child’s favorite stuffed animal. Take some time out before the appointment to role-play with a make-believe dental office. All you need is a chair, a white coat and just say “Aaah”.
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3. Choosing the right dentist
When searching for a dentist, make sure the dentist is qualified to deal with children and understands their needs. Some children may also have difficulty communicating because of their age or they’re simply just shy. Thus, it is important to find a dentist who has good communication skills with children and is patient. This will help your child feel at ease.
Once you’ve shortlisted dentist in your area, check for reviews online. This will give you a more realistic picture of the dental practice about both the good and bad dental visits experienced by others in the community. Therefore, you will be able to make a more informed decision.
At the end of the visit, take feedback from your children. It is important to ask your children how they liked the dentist and how they felt during the exam. The goal is to find a dentist who’s good at their job and your children will visit them happily on a regular.
4. Discussing the visit in advance
Studies have shown that parents tend to pass their dental anxiety to their children. If you’re not a huge fan of the dentist yourself, try not to show it in front of your children. If your child is afraid or anxious before going to the dentist, the best way to go about it is with positive reinforcement. Tell them that it’s completely normal to be nervous about their first visit to the dentist and praise them for being brave. Talk about their visit to the dentist. There’s no need to include too many details, keep it simple with age-appropriate language. Tell them that the dentist will count their teeth and make sure that they’re healthy.
5. Distraction techniques
You can bring along a distraction such as your child’s favorite toy, a coloring book or a set of stickers to soothe their nerves. This will help your child focus on something enjoyable while they’re waiting or even in the chair if the dentist allows it.
The older a child gets, the more anxious they will be when visiting the dentist for the first time, especially if the child is 5 years or older. But these tips for preparing your 5-year-old for the dentist will help your child cope better. If a child is made familiar with the dentist’s office early on, dental visits will be easier for both the child and the parent. However, better late than never! If your child still hasn’t gone to the dentist for a checkup, now would be the best time to set an appointment.
Need a pediatric dentist in Gulshan-e-Iqbal area, Karachi? Schedule an appointment today!
At The Dental Clinic we treat children of all ages with gentle and informative care. We have the best pediatric dentist in our team who is certified to provide the treatment your child needs. We are equipped with state-of-the-art amenities and dental technologies at the clinic. Our approach focuses on giving every child an excellent experience every time they visit. At the end of the visit, the pediatric dentist will ensure that your child leaves with a smile! To get started, schedule an appointment, just contact us at 03312048149 or drop by our clinic, Room # 3 & 4, 2nd Floor, Taj Clinics, C-15/1 Block 3 Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi, 75300