While you know that regular dentist visits are necessary for your children’s oral hygiene and health, many kids resist going out of fear. Rather than try to reason with a stubborn toddler or preschooler, you can calm and relax the youngster both before and during the big appointment.

It’s best to start them young — the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests taking a child to the dentist as soon as the first tooth appears. Introducing children to dentists at an early age will allow them to feel more comfortable during the appointments as they age. 

In addition, try these tricks and tips before your child’s next dental appointment:

1. Have a pretend dentist visit at home before the real deal. You can hold a small mirror up to your child’s mouth while explaining how the dentist will conduct the exam. Another idea is to have your child give a favorite doll a make-believe dental exam. He or she can then take the toy with them to the appointment. Avoid using words like “drill” or “pain,” which could scare the child.

2. Buy a children’s book about visiting a dentist and read it to your son and daughter in the days leading up to the appointment. Look for a book that explains what the visit will entail using both words and pictures. If possible, choose a book featuring one of your child’s favorite cartoon characters to put them even more at ease.

3. Rather than try to talk a young child out of a tantrum before or during the dentist visit, comfort them by holding their hand or rubbing their back instead. Pediatric dental offices are used to dealing with these scenarios, so you can ask the staff members to help ease the child’s fear as well. 

4. Feel free to reward your child after the dentist visit. Doing this will give him or her something to look forward to at the end of the appointment, and also reinforce  good behavior. Reward ideas include a trip to a children’s museum or park after the dental visit, or a small toy. 

5. Teach your children the importance of good oral hygiene on a regular basis, so they view dentists in a positive light. Let them pick out their own toothbrushes, some of which feature popular cartoon characters of kid-friendly designs, or favorite toothpaste flavors to get them excited about brushing their teeth. 

Remember these tips when your child is getting ready for his or her next visit a dental office, such as 12th Avenue Dental Centre.