Helping children develop into cooperative dental patients begins before their first
visit to the dentist. Children are put more at ease when we speak of dentists as
helpers - like firemen and teachers. Children
need to know that dentists help us keep our teeth clean and healthy. And clean
healthy teeth not only keep our smile nice, but also help ensure that we have teeth
for eating our favorite foods for the rest of our
At Mason and Mason Dentistry, we often introduce children to the experience of dental treatment with a "show-and-tell" session. We show young patients some of the tools and materials we use, and let them hold dental instruments and ask questions. We explain what they can expect at the dentist and what we are going to do during their visit. This familiarization helps children feel more comfortable.
Occasionally dentists will hear about parents who try using threats to get their
children to cooperate at the dentist. Saying things like, "If you don't behave, your
teeth will fall out,' (Yes! We have actually
heard this!) or, "Be good or the dentist will have to give you a shot," are
counterproductive and create negative feelings in children about the dentist. Please
never mention shots before children's dental
appointments. Most routine visits do not require a shot. And if a shot is
needed, 90 percent of the time our dental patients don't feel a thing and don't
realize they've received a shot. Since that's so
often the case, we don't believe there is anything to be gained by mentioning
In our experience, the kids who have the best dental experiences are those who have
been told that going to the dentist is not that big of deal. They should know that
everyone does it. Mommy goes to the dentist.
Daddy goes to the dentist. Teachers and grandparents, neighbors and friends -
everyone goes to the dentist. In fact, now there are even dentists for
Another consideration is the time of day you schedule appointments. Young children tend to tolerate dental appointments better early in the morning. A 4-year old usually has an easier time controlling himself/herself at 8:00 a.m. than 4:00 p.m., so we suggest morning appointments.
We know it's tough being parents and getting your kids to understand the importance of good oral hygiene. (We're parents, too!) We can work to keep your children's teeth healthy, but we need your help forming a positive attitude toward the dentist. Please consider how you talk about the dentist. Remember, we are helpers. We want to help our patients keep their teeth healthy and strong for a long, long time.