Little kids can sometimes be a little nervous about going to the dentist, and some of them can be downright terrified. How parents address these fears, and what they do to dispel them can make a big difference in the outcome of the visit. We want your kids to be as happy to see us as we are to see them, so here are a couple tips to help things go more smoothly.
The Early Bird Loves the Dentist
If you can make visiting the dentist part of your normal routine from a young age, your kids won’t have too much to be afraid of. Very young children have a great sense of adventure and are more willing to try new things. It’s not until a little later on that fear of the unknown starts to set in and make kids a little more apprehensive. Bring your kids in early and often to make the experience familiar and comfortable right from the start.
Don’t Overdo It
Your kids may have some questions about their dentist visit ahead of time, and you should answer them, but don’t give them more information than they’re asking for. Keep your answers to their questions simple and to the point. Your kids don’t need to know about every possible dental treatment they may experience for the rest of their lives. They just need to know that the dentist is going to look at their teeth. Any more information beyond this will just make them worry, probably unnecessarily, which will lead to anxiety in the office.
Try a Trial Run
Taking the kids along with you to the dentist is probably not the best idea, because they may feel nervous seeing you in the chair with the dentist peering into your mouth. If you want to take away some of the mystery about what happens at the dentist, consider doing a mock visit at home. Tell your kids that you’re going to show them what the dentist is going to do during their visit, then take them through the basics to help them prepare.
Ask them to brush their teeth and rinse.
Set them in a comfy chair, put a movie or music on, and ask them to relax.
Tell your child that you’re going to look in their mouth and count their teeth.
Use a toothbrush to count your child’s teeth.
Congratulate your child on having the right amount of teeth and for keeping them clean.
Establish Good Habits
It’s true that some visits to the dentist can be less pleasant than others, especially if there is more extensive work that needs to be done. Problems like cavities can often be avoided if you teach your child healthy dental habits right from the start. Encourage them to brush their teeth after every meal. Be sparing with sweets and juices. Offer them drinks of water throughout the day to keep their mouth fresh and clean. Use a toothpaste with fluoride in it, and ask your dentist about using fluoride drops if you live in an area where the water does not contain fluoride.