How To Prepare A Young Child For Their First Dental Cleaning

Dental cleanings are simply a part of life for any adult who follows their dentist's advice for good oral health care. They should be done at least once every six months along with a general check-up to ensure that you continue enjoying healthy teeth and gums. Preventative care is the best way to stay well after all. However, a young child who has not yet had their first dental cleaning may be a bit frightened by the idea. If you find that your kid is exhibiting a bit of anxiety about this no-big-deal situation, help prepare them for the cleaning in the following ways.

Present the Visit with Enthusiasm

It's important to tell your child about the dental cleaning before you go to the dentist. If your child often gets worried about new experiences, you can wait until the day of the appointment, but otherwise let your child know the appointment is coming up a day or two before the cleaning. When you tell your child about their first dental cleaning, use a positive tone of voice and speak about it like it's an adventure. Explain that the dentist wants to look at their teeth and has special "magic" equipment that can get their teeth very clean.

Talk About Their Feelings

The best way to help ease a child's fears about a dental cleaning will be to discuss how they feel. Children are not naturally inclined to simply lie back and discuss their feelings with a great deal of depth. No, as any parent knows, they are more prone to crying and tantrums when things don't go their way. However, you can ease a child into speaking about their feelings about the cleaning. Start by saying how you felt the first time you went to the dentist. You may also encourage a discussion by asking the following open-ended questions.

  • Have you ever heard your friends talk about going to the dentist? What did they say?
  • What do you think will happen during a dental cleaning?
  • Why do you think that dentists need to clean your teeth?
  • What do you think that kids should do if they get scared?
  • What would you do if you were upset about going to the dentist?
  • How can I help you feel better?
  • What would make it feel worse?
  • What can you say to the dentist when you get to there?

Based on the answers that your child gives, respond and share the truth when they have any misconceptions about things. Also reiterate that you are there for them, yet refrain from making promises that you can't keep. For example, the dentist may end up needing to fill a cavity, so you shouldn't promise only one procedure or that the appointment will last a specific amount of time. What you can promise is that the dentist is there to help them and that their comfort is very important to you and the dentist.

Finally, keep in mind that a child's first dental cleaning can be a positive experience. By preparing your child for the dental visit and helping them adjust to the idea of a teeth cleaning, you show your kid that you are there for them. Additionally, bringing your child in for regular dental cleanings teaches them healthy habits that they carry for the rest of their life. 

For a family dentist, contact an office such as Dillon Family Dental PLLC