Preparing Your Child for a Dental Appointment
A dental visit is something that even many adults dread, so when it comes to your child, it can be difficult to convince them that their upcoming dental visit will be enjoyable and beneficial for their health. If your child seems anxious about an upcoming trip to the dentist, here are some tips to help them ease their worries.
Create positive connotations with the dentist.
Sometimes parents will take the approach of telling their children that if they practice bad dental hygiene habits or eat sugary foods, their dentist isn’t going to be very happy with them. The downside to this approach is that it turns the dentist into an enemy from the get-go, whereas dentists are truly there to help children nurture good habits of dental hygiene. So instead of creating negative connotations with the dentist, discuss with your child the positive things that a dentist can do—like checking for “sugar bugs” and teaching them fun ways to approach brushing their teeth. Even promising a reward for your child after a dental visit can create the mindset that a dental visit is something to be endured rather than enjoyed, so pay attention to what messages you may be sending your child about the dentist.
Take your child with you on your next dental visit.
Are you visiting the dentist soon? Consider taking your child with you to help him or her see your example and observe just how routine a dental visit can be. Your child will likely look up to your example and inwardly desire to emulate your remaining calm throughout the dental visit.
Practice fun, dentist-themed activities.
There are many things you can do with your children before they head to the dentist to help give them fun associations with dental care. Consider doing an object lesson with them to teach them the benefits of dental health, or doing an art project with them that involves painting white teeth. You could also try reading with them a fun book about dental care or watching dental hygiene videos that are geared towards children.
Don’t over-dramatize it.
Your child will likely gauge how to react to an upcoming dental visit by how you talk about it. For instance, if you discuss an upcoming dental visit for your child with an almost overwhelming amount of reassurance, your child might start to get the feeling that a routine visit to the dentist is something to worry about. Instead of over-hyping a trip to the dentist, present it as what it is—a routine visit to help promote healthy teeth and gums.