Some kids are terrified of the dentist and others simply take it all in their stride. Setting up a healthy and relaxed attitude to visiting the dentist is good for your child’s oral health and for your stress levels. You will obviously want to do your best for your child’s health and setting up a good dental hygiene routine is a big part of that. Here are some bright ideas for helping your child feel calm and confident when they are visiting the dentist.
Start your trips to the dentist as early as you can
Waiting until your child needs a trip to the emergency dentist because they have cracked a tooth in an accident or have a toothache is a big mistake. Your child will already be distressed about what has happened and a first trip to a strange place will just make matters worse. They will associate the dentist with pain and fear rather than with encouragement and praise.
You can start routine check-ups from around six to nine months of age. It does not matter if your child does not have many teeth at this time. The visit does not have to be a long one. It is simply to get them familiar with the surgery, chair, and equipment in a non-threatening way.
For the early visits, your dentist will keep it simple. They will mainly chat to your child and possibly have a quick look inside their mouth. Let them see the dentist as a friend and you will be on your way to get kids to enjoy visiting the dentist
Explore what a dentist is all about
Children are fearful of the unknown so the more familiar they can be with the dentist the better. Ask your dentist if they could give your child a short introduction to the treatment room. Show them how the chair works, how the dentist puts gloves on and off and the noise that the drill makes. Keep your tone light and casual and try to treat it as you would a trip to a library. Your child will come away with the impression that a dentist’s surgery is a place that is interesting and where you can learn something.
Watch your language
Be careful about the words that you use when talking about the dentist. Avoid words like pain and hurt. Refer to a dentist as someone who is there to help your family and who cares about you. If you have had a bad experience at the dentist it is best not to share this with your child until they are much older.
Talk about oral health at home. Re-enforce how important it is and how visiting the dentist is a key aspect of maintaining the health of your teeth. Make your kid’s proud of their teeth and eager to look after them. Never refer to the dentist in threatening terms. Don’t tell your child that the dentist will be angry with them if they don’t brush their teeth however effective or tempting a strategy this may be!
With these few easy strategies, to get kids to enjoy visiting the dentist and soon they will find all their trips to the dentist interesting and enjoyable.