Strange lights. Unfamiliar sounds. A white-masked stranger. Have you ever imagined why your kids may be nervous to visit the dentist?
Take one minute to put yourself in your children's shoes and experience the dentist from their point of view. Although dentists try to make dental visits as comfortable as possible, many children are terrified of the dentist and will do anything to avoid the situation altogether.
But facts are facts: Your children need to regularly visit the dentist to understand proper oral hygiene habits and maintain oral health.
If your children put up a fight whenever you visit the dentist, don't fret. There are a number of things you can do to calm their nerves and make their experience more comfortable.
1. Start Young
The earlier your child visits the dentist, the better. If children regularly visit the dentist from a young age, it will feel like a normal routine. Your dentist's office will become your child's dental home, a place filled with a familiar office staff and a welcoming environment.
Make it a goal to visit the dentist on your child's first birthday and then biannually from then on out.
2. Don't Overthink It – Don't Let Your Children Overthink It Either
Before your child's first dental visit, don't share too many details about the dentist. The more details you share, the more questions your child might ask. Instead of giving too many details, just mention a few things that might happen during your child's dental visit, including the following:
You'll sit in a chair and the dentist will lay you back and turn a light on so he/she can look in your mouth and make sure your teeth are healthy.
The dentist will clean your teeth and rinse them with a cleaner called fluoride.
If your children ask questions, try to be honest without being too detailed. Too much detail will make your children overthink the upcoming visit and might add to their fear.
3. Avoid Scary Words
If your child requires more than a simple cleaning, don't use 'scary' words to describe a dental procedure. Keep 'shot', 'hurt' and 'pain' out of your vocabulary when explaining what dental work needs to be done.
If you have a hard time explaining things, seek advice from your dentist on how you can best broach the subject and help your children feel comfortable before, during and after their visit to the dentist.
4. Play Pretend
Schedule pretend dental visits with your children at home, and swap roles so your children can play both the patient and the dentist. When you act like the dentist, be gentle with your children so they know the dentist is a kind person who only wants to help them have healthy teeth and a beautiful smile.
When you play the patient, act calm so your children know how to act in the dental chair.
Playing pretend will give your children an extra boost of confidence and help them understand the dentist's office isn't a scary place. Try playing pretend dentist every day for a week leading up to your children's dental appointments.
5. Don't Bribe
Although you may be tempted to bribe your children into visiting the dentist, don't use this tactic. Bribery may increase your children's apprehension. Instead of using bribery, praise your children for good behaviour and help them understand that dental visits will help their teeth look and feel healthier.
If you usually have to drag your children to the dentist, try one of the tips mentioned above to make your life less stressful-and your dentist's job easier. The more you prepare for dental visits, the more comfortable your children should feel when it's time to hop up into the dentist's chair.