Young children are often fearful of going to the dentist and will balk when parents mention it. This may be due to having the dentist examine their teeth, with the hygienist providing a detailed cleaning. Some kids worry about being asked if they are eating candy and drinking soda, which they soon learn can cause cavities. If your children are afraid of going to their next dental appointment, here are some tips that may help.
Help Kids Prepare for a Dental Visit
Teach your children how to brush their teeth two or three times daily. Show them how to floss their teeth, and if necessary, how to safely and correctly use a mouth rinse. Keeping their teeth in good condition starts a life-long habit that reinforces the importance of oral health. Clean, well-cared-for teeth also instill confidence in children who will be examined by dental practitioners. Encourage them to let you know of any dental discomfort and take a casual look for signs of teeth that are coming in crooked or other unusual symptoms to mention to the dentist.
Try to innocuously drive past the dentist’s office while doing other errands and casually point out the dentist’s office, so it will be recognizable and somewhat familiar on the appointment day.
Don’t Overplay a Dental Checkup
Avoid putting on a false sense of excitement or happiness when referring to an upcoming dental checkup. Kids are bright enough to sense that you are exaggerating the joy and benefits of letting the dental teamwork on their mouths. Stay calm and matter of fact when discussing the visit, and encourage the kids to view it as a normal process that protects their dental health and keeps their teeth strong and attractive. You might want to schedule the visit before school or right after school, so the kids have limited time to worry about their appointment.
Connect Dentistry To Positive Things
Schedule the dental visit close to an upbeat event or activity so that your child is in a good mood while visiting the family dentist. A shopping trip, fun with friends, or doing something fun is a good segue to a dental appointment. You might remind your little ones of the gifts and goody bags offered by the dental team, assuming this is done. You can also “good-natured” plan a trip to the park or an enjoyable hike not as a bribe but as a natural occurrence on the day of the appointment to keep your children’s moods buoyant and to allay their anxiety.
Getting your children to feel comfortable at the dentist’s office is a good way to help them take care of their teeth. Teach them that dental care is part of a healthy lifestyle that need not be overshadowed by fear.
By Lizzie Weakley