Going to the dentist is a regular part of most people's lives, but it can cause a lot of anxiety in children. It's important to recognize and address these fears as early as possible to set the stage for good dental hygiene in your child's life.
Even if your kid hasn't been to the dentist before, she may dread the first appointment due to the unknown. She may have heard scary stories of drills and pain, and is fearful days or months before she walks into the dental office.
Start building your child's lifetime relationship with dentists by explaining the importance of having healthy gums and teeth, and how regular dental visits are vital to it. Stress to her that dentists are there to help, not hurt, their patients, and that she's safe when in the office.
It's important that a youngster is as relaxed as possible before his or her dental appointment, and there are several things you can do to help ensure that. It's often recommended that children start visiting a dentist at age one or after the first tooth comes in, which should make them comfortable in the dental chair by the time they start school.
Here are some more tips for easing your child's fear before a dental appointment:
1. Be Positive
It may seem like a simple suggestion, but there is power in positivity when it comes to children's dental appointments. Let the child know that they have an upcoming dentist appointment, but don't give too many details, which can make them fearful. Tell them that you will be there for them throughout the visit and that they will receive a gift, such as a new toothbrush or sparkly toothpaste, when it's done.
2. Have a Trial Visit
Another way that you can help make your kid less fearful of the dentist is by having your own trial run at home. Walk the youngster through a sample visit, explaining what the dentist will do as you floss and brush their teeth.
You can also set up a pretend dental office and have your child give her stuffed animals or toys "exams" using a new toothbrush. Allow her to bring one of the toys along on the day of her own appointment for comfort.
3. Use Music
As you drive to the dental office on the big day, play your kid's favorite upbeat music to take her mind off of the appointment. She'll arrive at the office in good spirits instead of full of fear and dread. It's also helpful to pick a pediatric dental office, which will most likely have toys in the waiting room as a distraction.
Contact a clinic, like Ballinger Dental Clinic, for more help.