A lot of us grew up traumatized and scarred for life with visits to the dentist in our childhood. Most of us spent a good amount of our childhood trying to avoid trips to the dentist at all costs. It was only when we were old enough that we understood the importance of those trips and how helpful they were to our health and hygiene.
Make your child’s dentist or orthodontist appointment a lot less stressful by doing some of the steps we listed below.
- Start them young
A child’s dental care starts as soon as his or her first tooth shows up. As they grow older and more teeth start to come out, parents should already start teaching kids some of the basics of dental care, including brushing teeth after every meal.
When it comes to dentist appointments, it is also best if you start them young. At the earliest opportunity, take your toddler out for a visit to your family dentist. Bring them with you when it’s your turn to see your dentist. Getting them used to the environment will help take lessen their anxiety.
- Make it fun by taking your child on a tour of the clinic.
Nowadays, pedodontists go out of their way to decorate their clinics and make them as child-friendly as possible. Turn the visit from an errand to something fun. Talk to your child’s dentist if he or she could show you around and give you a tour of the place to dispel any false perceptions about dentists.
- Don’t mention any negative words that can be associated with dentists.
One of the primary things that make a trip to the dentist a scary one is when people talk negatively about them. Somehow, a dentist belongs in the company of the Bogeyman and the monster in the closet. Avoid painting dentists in a negative light. Instead, talk positively about them and how helpful they are in making sure we’re all healthy.
- Pretend-play as a dentist and patient with your child at home.
As early as you can, introduce the dentist to your child by playing pretend at home. You can take one of your playtimes and explain what a dentist does to help people. You and your child can take turns being both the dentist and the patient. This way, when you do introduce them to a real dentist, they won’t be scared because they already know what it’s like to be one. Sort of.
- Never bribe your kids.
Two things about bribing: first, it’s not a good thing to practice ever because it is very manipulative in nature; second, the concept of bribing is giving someone something in exchange for an inconvenience.
Whenever you bribe a child just to get him or her to go to the dentist, it means that he or she has some sort of discomfort and pain to expect. Don’t make them any promises for any rewards because they need to understand that going to the dentist is for their own good.
Focus on the benefits of seeing their dentist regularly instead so that they form a healthy perception about their pedodontist.
- Come up with a secret “safety signal” that only the two of you know about.
Communicating from a dentist chair with your mouth wide open and several devices in it is almost impossible to do. Before you go to the clinic, come up with a secret hand signal that your child can do when he or she is uncomfortable, in pain, or just need a break. When that signal is given, you can ask the dentist to step back and give your child a breather. Doing this somehow empowers the child and makes him or her feel that he or she has some control over the procedure.
- Stay in the room at all times.
When a child is anxious about anything, the mere presence of his or her parent is enough to calm him or her down. While a security blanket or a toy can bring them some form of comfort, there’s nothing like you being physically there for them throughout the entire procedure.
A child’s dental health care starts at home. Parents should teach their children the importance of proper dental care at home from brushing to flossing to eating right. They should also emphasize the importance of how dentists are friends and not out to harm kids. The sooner that a child understands this, the easier it will be for you and your kid on his or her next dental appointment.