Dental phobias are common even among the adult population, so it is no wonder so many children are afraid of going to the dentist. As a parent, you know that your child needs and deserves quality dental care, but what can you do to diminish any fears they may be harboring?
The first visit to the dentist can be frightening for young children, but there are steps you can take to make the care they need easier. Here are seven things you can do to get your child ready for a lifetime of positive and productive dental care.
1) Choose a dentist who specializes in pediatric patients. Not all dentists are kid-friendly, so choose a professional who understands the fears your child might bring with them to the chair and whose waiting room will be set up to make kids feel comfortable.
2) Talk about what will happen. Nothing is more frightening than the unknown, and if your child does not know what to expect, their fear of the dentist will only grow. Talking about how the dentist works and what to expect can help them set their mind at ease.
3) Make sure your child practices good dental hygiene. If your child scrupulously brushes and flosses their teeth, that first dental visit should be a breeze. Good dental hygiene is an essential part of proper care and a great way to avoid painful procedures in the future.
4) Bring a furry friend along. No, you cannot bring your child’s pet to the dental appointment, but you can bring a stuffed animal to make them feel better and reassured.
5) Have your child accompany you to your own dental appointment. Having your child see a dental procedure firsthand can set their mind at ease, especially if it is mom or dad in the chair. If you can arrange it, bringing your child with you to your own appointment can be an easier introduction to the world of dental care.
6) Choose a less busy time of day. When the waiting room is packed with patients, the staff may feel rushed and overwhelmed – and less inclined to cater to the needs and fears of your child. Choosing a less busy appointment time will allow the dentist and hygienists to focus on your child and their concerns.
7) Role-play with your child. Playtime is about more than fun – it is a great way to learn about the world and how it works. Role-playing the dental appointment with your child using props, stuffed animals, and toys is a great way to prepare for the upcoming appointment.
That first trip to the dentist can be a harrowing one, but it does not have to be. As a caring parent, you can do a lot to assuage the fears your child has, reassuring them that the appointment will go well and they will leave with a clean mouth, a brand new toothbrush, and perhaps even a treat or two. The seven tips listed above can help you make that first dental visit a positive experience for your child.