Taking your child to the dentist can often be a daunting task. Children are often anxious and scared of dentists, and don’t want to be at the dentist’s clinic. If your child continues to suffer from dental anxiety, this can often impact their dental hygiene later in life, as the dentist will be a place they want to avoid. However, taking your child to the dentist, particularly when they’re young, is a necessity to maintain good oral hygiene. So what can you do to make sure your child is relaxed before their next trip to the dentist?
Practice makes perfect, and the same goes for visiting the dentist. The earlier the child visits the dentist, the better. Ideally, children should start visiting the dentist at around age one, or when the first tooth is visible. Starting to take your child to the dentist while they are still young not only ensures they will have good oral health but helps them become more comfortable with the dentist clinic.
Choose the right dentist
To help make your child feel more ease, you should ensure you visit a dentist who your child feels they can trust. There’s nothing worse than trying to convince your child not only to visit the dentist’s clinic but see someone they don’t like. To get the best results, you should try and see a pediatric dentist as it is often a good idea to see a dentist who specialises in treating children. The additional training family dentists have undertaken will help them treat children who are feeling anxious.
Get a regular hygienist
Another way to help children have a sense of familiarity and trust at the dental clinic is to see if you can schedule the same hygienist for your child’s appointments. This is an easy way to make sure the appointment is a lot smoother.
Make sure you continue to communicate with your child about the dentist, particularly if they suffer from dental anxiety. You want to make sure you let your child know when dental appointments are booked. Letting them know about appointments at the last minute can often do more harm than good. Giving advanced warning will give children more time to prepare for the dentist appointment mentally.
Make sure you let your children know exactly what the appointment is for. This is a better tactic than saying vague reassuring sentences such as “everything is fine.” This can cause the child to end up losing trust in not only the dentist, but also in the parent. Instead, mention specifics, whether that is the child is getting a clean, or they are receiving a filling. Be prepared to answer questions your child may have about the dentist, as this can help curb any nervousness the child is experiencing.
Just be wary of the words you use – try and avoid words such as “shot”, “hurt” or “pain.” If you’re struggling to think of alternatives, listen to the phrases the dentist and hygienist use, and start using those.
Hold a pretend visit
If your child is very anxious about visiting the dentist, you may want to consider holding a pretend visit at home before the appointment taking place. This can help the child prepare for the dentist, as they will know what to expect. Do a bit of role playing, and act as the dentist, while giving your child’s teeth an examination. You can even swap roles and let your child act as the dentist.
If you’re doing this, make sure you avoid including anything that may be scary. Don’t make drilling sounds or use anything in the examination that may hurt or scare your child. Instead, just stick to using a toothbrush and a mirror and a chair for the child to sit in.
Lead by example
Kids learn a lot from their parents. Often it’s not just children who experience anxiety when visiting the clinic – adults do as well. However, if the adult is nervous about visiting the clinic, this can be detrimental to the child and can cause them to continue having a fear of dentists. Instead, it’s best to set a positive example for your children. Don’t let them see your nerves about going to the dentist. It’s best to act excited about going for checkups.
You can also teach your child about good oral hygiene practices, such as brushing twice a day and flossing. If they see you doing this on a daily basis, children are more likely to do the same.
If you need to bring your child to the dentist, JC Dental are experienced in children’s dentistry. We work hard to ensure there is a friendly atmosphere, to ensure children are not nervous when they visit. Interested in our services? Contact us today to find out how we can help you and your children achieve a healthy smile.