It's pretty common for young children and kids to feel nervous or scared when they're first going to the dentist for checkups and examinations. Although many of the procedures children endure are painless, the fear of not knowing in combination with new sights, smells, and people can make any child feel uneasy.
Both the dentist and parent or parents have a duty to calm the child and ensure they're made to feel welcome and safe. There are ways you can help ease your children's fear while making sure they're receiving the highest quality dental care. We've gathered a few tips to help you out!
Do Your Research On Local Dentistry Practices
You want to know what you're walking into the first time you visit a new dentist with your child so it can be wise to do a little research beforehand. Visit your local family dentistry's website and learn about their staff, procedures, and amenities they offer such as a children's play area with toys or coloring books. Choosing a family practice is a great first step to making sure your child's dentistry experience is comfortable and positive. Family dentistries have more experience treating patients of all ages and coordinating their care with family members. Children are at their best when their life has routine is somewhat predictable, keeping this in mind, a family dentist works hard to build a rapport with the child right away and keep them interested and informed on every step of the visit and visits to come.
Put On A Happy Face
A new study has shown that there is a strong connection between a parent's relationship with their dentist and dental hygiene, and their child's. The more a parent, particularly the mother shows fear or anxiety about their child's upcoming dental appointment or treatment, the more affected and distraught their child will be. Instead, choosing to display a calm attitude about your own dental appointments along with your child's goes a long way to ease their overall anxiety. Rather than reinforcing and stoking negative feelings with phrases like 'everyone hates the dentist', engage your child positively about their upcoming dental appointment, this can serve to have life-long benefits for your child's routine dental care.
Be A Reassuring Presence
Simply being near or next to your child can bring them a lot of comfort and reassurance during periods where they're feeling stressed or anxious. For an especially anxious child, the dentist might ask you to participate and sit very close to the child, hold their hand or talk to them. Sometimes your dentist will have you demonstrate for your child what will happen so they can see it for themselves first and see you reacting calmly. This makes the appointment more predictable, and therefore, less frightening.
Distractions For Days
You may have seen this done at places other than the dentist, and that's simply because it works. Someone asks your child a random or seemingly unrelated question to whatever they're currently doing. Things like 'what did you do this summer', or 'where do you want to go on vacation?'. This not only helps strengthen their relationship with your child but more importantly, it provides them a distraction from their fear of the present situation. Most children will become easily distracted by getting to talk about their favorite things and this can make it so an appointment will fly by with ease.
In general, the earlier a child begins routine dental visits the better. Once the first few teeth are visible, you should schedule the first visit. This practice will provide a dental home for your child where they can become familiar with the staff and dentists, all of which reduce future anxiety. They may even come to get excited for each of their dentist appointments and pass this behavior off to their future children too!