Taking your child to the dentist might be scary for them, but as a parent, you need to make them feel safe and comfortable before their first appointment. These seven easy-to-follow tips will help you ease your child’s anxiety and fear of the dentist.
Start Their Visits at an Early Age
It is usually recommended that a child has their first dentistry appointment as early as possible. In other words, that would preferably be within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth. Not only is it important for the child’s dental health, but visiting the dentist early in life will also prevent your child from developing a fear of the dentist. By taking your child to dentist appointments as soon as possible, they will get into the routine and be less anxious about the whole process as they grow older. And lastly, never wait to bring your child to the dentist until they have serious dental issues and are experiencing tooth pain or decay. It’s always better to solve the problem while it’s a smaller issue than to wait for it to get bigger and more problematic.
Keep It Simple
This is especially important for the first visit. Try not to include way too many details when preparing your child for the dental appointment. This will only raise more questions, some of which you might not know how to properly answer without causing unnecessary anxiety. So, try to avoid adding extra information. Keep it simple and try to maintain a positive attitude while talking about the upcoming appointment. But on the other hand, don’t be too positive by giving your child false hope. Because if you try to assure your child that everything will be fine and they end up needing additional treatment, they will probably lose trust in you and the dentist.
Consider a Pretend Visit
Consider playing pretend with your child before the first dentist appointment. You can pretend to be the dentist and go through the routine of the visit. It is very simple since all you need is a toothbrush. For starter, count your little one’s teeth by starting with number one. Show your kid how the doctor is going to use the mirror to get a better look at their teeth. But don’t make any drilling noises and avoid lining up other ‘instruments’. This might make them anxious. Then, you can let your child role-play. For instance, they can use a toothbrush to brush the teeth of their favorite stuffed animals. The goal is to get the kid familiar with the routine. This way, you will ensure that your child feels comfortable enough during the first appointment.
Visit Their Dentist before the Appointment
If, however, you sense that your child is scared, even after trying out these previous tips, there is another efficient way you can calm them down. Call the dentist’s office and see if you could bring your child before the appointment for a little meet and greet. This way your child will be able to meet the staff before the actual appointment and get familiar with the surroundings. It is a very efficient and non-threatening way to let your child adjust to the atmosphere and get relaxed in this new setting. After this visit, your child will know exactly what to expect and will feel less anxious and nervous.
Even though promising some kind of reward might seem like a good idea, many experts disagree. Promising your child a special treat if they behave well at the dentist’s appointment will more likely increase their apprehension than help them relax. Telling your child that if they don’t cry they will get their favorite candy will make them think about this dentist appointment in a very negative way. Your child will probably end up questioning what is so bad at this appointment that will potentially even make them cry. This will only make your child feel nervous. Also, promising a sugary treat will send a wrong message, because the dentist will probably emphasize the importance of avoiding sweets that might cause cavities and other issues. Instead, try praising your child for good behavior and every once in awhile surprise them with a sticker or a small toy as an encouragement.
Choose Kid-Friendly Dentist
The good news is that most children can be calmed down with one of these techniques or a combination of them. However, if you feel like you’ve tried it all and it isn’t working very well, consider pediatric sedation dentistry. This will help put your child at ease. Something about it just helps alleviate the children’s anxiety and helps them enjoy the dentist’s appointments. You can always find specialized dentistry for children if you think it will be helpful for your child. Just make sure to schedule regular cleanings at least every six months. This will ensure that your child’s oral health is at its finest.
All of these previously-mentioned tips will most likely help you with your child’s anxiety. However, sometimes it is necessary to seek professional help as well. Consider going to therapy with your child to talk to someone who will find an effective way to calm them down and make them feel safer. Try treatments such as behavioral therapy or psychotherapy for example. This will help your child overcome their fear by talking to someone and opening up about their anxiety in a healthy way.
All things considered, it is important to make your child feel safe and comfortable when going to the dentist. These tips will help your child develop a routine of going to the dentist without feeling anxious about it.