Going to the dentist, whether for the first time or the tenth time, can be an intimidating event for both children and their parents-especially children with sensory processing disorders. Children and parents usually have a lot of questions about what is going to happen at the appointment.
Parents wonder: Will my child have a meltdown? Have we been brushing his teeth enough? Will my child have cavities?
Children wonder: Why do I have to go to the dentist? Will it hurt? What will is smell like? Will it be loud? How long will it take? Do I get a prize at the end?
Below are some simple tips to try out the next time a dentist appointment is approaching, so that everyone has a worry-free experience.
5 Simple Tips to prepare your child for a dentist appointment:
1. Make sure to talk to your child ahead of time. Let them know which day they will be going to the dentist and tell them some of the events that may occur (e.g. sit in a special chair, clean their teeth with toothpaste, look in their mouth with a small mirror and other silver tools).
2. Talk about their 5 senses. Let your child know what noises they may hear with their ears, see with their eyes, taste with their mouth, touch with their hands or mouth, or smell with their nose (e.g. bright lights above their chair so that the dentist can see all of their teeth; cold water from a little hose to rinse out their mouth).
3. Drive past the dentist office a day or two prior to the appointment so that your child can see where they will be going. Talk about landmarks nearby, especially if they have been to that area before or have a special interest in something nearby (e.g. “There is the grocery store we go to each week to buy our food” or “there is the post office where all of our letters go”).
4. Have your child mark off the days on the calendar or create a countdown on a wipe-off board one week prior to the appointment. This will give your child a visual cue and help them to take an active part in the upcoming appointment. Click here for more information about the benefits of visual calendars.
5. Make your child comfortable. Allow your child to bring 1 comfort item with them (e.g. small stuffed animal/blanket, squeeze toy or favorite car etc).
Feel free to share some of your Dentist Tips with us by leaving a comment below!