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Ringley Park’s Specialist Paediatric Dentist, Maalini Patel, gives some helpful advice to parents and carers on how to prepare children for that all-important visit to the dentist.

Taking a child to the dentist, especially for the first time, can be stressful. But there are many ways to make a dental appointment a positive experience for everyone involved, making the dental practice a familiar and fun place to be.

1. Bring them in early
Whether or not their first tooth has appeared, we strongly recommend that all children come in to see the dentist before their first birthday – a view supported by the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD), Dental Check by One. Bringing children in early gets them used to the dental environment. The dentist can check that all is well, and it sets the child up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

2. Be positive
Many parents and carers are themselves anxious about visiting the dentist and that fear is easy to pass on to youngsters without even realising. It’s really important to try and modify the language used around children and talk about visiting the dentist in a positive light.

It’s natural to think it’s helpful to say to a child, “Don’t worry – it won’t hurt” or “Be brave” but even these words imply that it’s going to be a painful or scary experience and creates negative associations with a dental visit. Try to make the visit sound enticing by letting them know that the dentist is there to help them (not hurt them!), that they can get a ride on the dental chair and that if they are coming in to see me at Ringley Park, they will come away with a toy and a sticker as a reward afterwards!

3. Be prepared
Another way to prepare for a trip to the dentist is to see what’s available online. Children’s favourites Hey Duggee and Peppa Pig both have videos available with top tips and advice on keeping children’s teeth healthy, while BBC CBeebies and Peppa Pig have videos all about a child’s first visit to the dentist and what to expect. You can check out a selection of great kids videos here.

4. Nervous children
As a specialist paediatric dentist I often see children who are particularly nervous about visiting the dentist or those with special needs. Our dental team in Reigate are highly experienced in dealing with anxious patients of all ages and we have a range of proven ways to help children feel relaxed whilst in our care.

We are more than happy to talk to parents or carers before the appointment, so you know what to expect and why there is no reason to worry. Once here we have toys for children to play with, a dedicated child-friendly surgery covered in fun stickers and we offer longer appointments so you have plenty of time to ask questions and there’s no rush to get your child into the dental chair.

5. Come in and see us!
With the summer holidays approaching now is a great time to book your child in for a dental check-up. At Ringley Park in Reigate we are open throughout all school holidays, including half-term, and we offer convenient after-school appointments up to 4.30pm.

If your child is anxious about visiting the dentist why not book your own check-up at the same time? Once a child sees that mum or dad is happy to see the dentist, their fears will subside and coming to the dentist will be a far more positive experience.

Everyone here at Ringley Park Dental Practice looks forward to welcoming adults and children to the practice. If you would like to know more about the COVID-safe measures we have in place, full details are available on our home page.

If you have any questions about your child’s dental treatment or to book an appointment call 01737 240123 today where one of our friendly team will be more than happy to help.