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    First set of teeth surfaces. Children should visit a dentist for the first time within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth, and not later than age 1. Ellen Marie Santos-Lat, D.M.D., a dentist based in Muntinlupa City, says that bringing kids this early, where they can learn about the how-to’s of proper dental hygiene, is a good first step to eliminating parental apprehensions and a child’s fear of the dentist. 

    How to make it easy

    -Familiarize your child with the experience: sitting on a big chair, the bright overhead light, keeping her mouth open for long periods, dental tools, etc. The first visit is usually a “show and tell” between the dentist and the kid. “I tell kids to open their mouths so I can count their teeth, show them their pearly whites by holding up a large mirror in front of their faces, and a little teeth mirror to let them peek inside their mouths,” Dr. Lat illustrates.

    -Ask your friends with children of the same age for referrals. If possible, ask the kids about their experience. Two things to consider when choosing a dentist:

    1.) a waiting room filled with children’s books and toys may help with the first part of the journey, and 2.) the dentist’s ability to effectively communicate with and give reassurance to distraught children. 

    -If the experience is painful, allow your children to cry. Afterward, talk about the experience. Highlight the positive aspects (fun waiting area, friendly dentist, healthy teeth), while downplaying the negative (pain, sound of the drill). If your children want to talk about the scary stuff, let them. Talking about an unpleasantexperience helps kids deal with it.

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