We all know how important it is to bring our children to the dentist regularly to ensure good oral hygiene. However, we also know that children can find a trip to the dentist scary (we certainly hated them when we were kids!). So to help make things easier for future trips (for you, your child and the dentist!) here are some tips to make the experience more relaxed.
Start young
The sooner your child visits the dentist, the easier it will be in the future. Your child will be more familiar with the dentist office and so won’t be as nervous about visiting, whether it’s for a check up or in an emergency. Bring your child for his first visit at the age of one, or when his first few teeth are showing.
Keep things simple
Don’t tell your child too much about what he should expect on his visit. The more you tell him, the more questions he will have. Avoid mentioning treatments that he might need but don’t tell him that ‘everything will be fine’ in case he does need a treatment such as a filling. Keep a positive attitude and treat the trip as if it is no big deal.
Be careful with your words
Don’t use words such as ‘pain’, ‘hurt’ or ‘injection’. The staff will probably know the right vocabulary to use with children so let them talk your child through the situation. If your child asks what the dentist is doing, you can say he is looking for ‘sugar spots’ to clean them off his teeth. Or simply tell him that the dentist is counting his teeth and checking his smile!
Play pretend dentist
Before the first appointment, why not play a game of dentist and patient with your child? Just use a toothbrush and count his teeth. Don’t make drilling noises or line up ‘instruments’. Encourage your child to play dentist with his teddies and let him brush their teeth.
Do not bring your child to your own appointment
Some parents think bringing a child to their own dentist appointment will teach him not to be scared. However, you might feel nervous about your appointment and your child could pick up on this. Don’t tell him about any procedures you may have had.
Prepare for a fuss
Even if your child is happy about the visit, there could be a bit of crying or wriggling around once you arrive at the dentist’s office. Stay calm…the dentist and his staff will be well used to this and will know how to handle a crying child. If possible, it might be a good idea to hold your child’s hand while he is in the chair. This should calm him down and keep him from grabbing the dentist and his instruments.
Don’t bribe your child
If you tell your child he will get a special treat after the dentist, he might think something bad is going to happen. Also, promising sugary treats will send the wrong message. The trip should emphasize the importance of dental hygiene so you should make your child is aware that sugar can cause cavities. Instead, after the visit, praise your child for being so well behaved. You can even surprise him after with a small toy as a way of encouragement.
Teach them the importance of good oral hygiene
Tell your child that dentist visits are necessary to keep his teeth clean and healthy. Explain that the dentist keeps cavities away so he will have strong teeth to eat his food. Also tell him good oral hygiene will ensure he has a beautiful smile all his life.