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10 Children's dental visit tips

Make your child's dental visits scare-free with these dental visit tips from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Did you know that February is National Children’s Dental Health Month? Good dental habits in childhood lead to healthier teeth and gums into adulthood. The experts at American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) know that the dentist office can be a scary place for children. To help parents make dental visits a more enjoyable endeavor, they created a top ten list to take the scare out of the dental chair.
Did you know that February is National Children’s Dental Health Month? Good dental habits in childhood lead to healthier teeth and gums into adulthood. The experts at American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) know that the dentist office can be a scary place for children. To help parents make dental visits a more enjoyable endeavor, they created a top ten list to take the scare out of the dental chair.

AAPD's Top 10 dental visit tips for kids

1. Start now

The AAPD recommends that every child have a regular dentist by their first birthday. The earlier the visit, the better the chances of preventing dental problems. The fewer the dental problems, the less likelihood of "scary" procedures.

2. Have a friendly visit

If your toddler hasn't yet seen a dentist, make an appointment for a friendly visit. Your child can go and meet the dentist and explore the office without having to get an exam.

3. Choose your words wisely

Keep in mind that check-ups and 90 percent of first visits do not have anything to do with “hurt,” so do not even use the word! The dentist and hygienist are "good guys"; don't use language that implies any different.

4. Time appointments when its best for your kiddo

Select an appointment time when your child is alert and rested. A nap-deprived or hungry child is a cranky, impatient child.

5. Be confident

Children often perceive a parent’s anxiety. They also tolerate procedures best when their parents understand what to expect and prepare them for the experience. As parents become more confident, so will the child.

6. Go to a pediatric dentist

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry, with two to three years of specialized training in treating children beyond dental school. They specialize in children's dentistry so their office environment is kid-friendly.

7. Manage your child's expectations

Before the visit, explain that the dentist is a friend and will help your child keep their teeth healthy. Reinforce that the visit will be fun.

8. Tell a story

Read your child a story about a character that had a good dental visit. (Ask the dental office for suggested reading.)

9. List out questions

Make a list of your questions about your child’s oral health in advance.

10. Let your child have some control

Give your child some control over the dental visit. Such choices as “Which color toothbrush do you like?” will make the visit more enjoyable.

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