It’s a process many parents find similar to pulling teeth – taking their child on a trip to the dentist’s chair.
Unfortunately, many youngsters seem to have a fear of going to the dentist. Whether this is a natural worry or one they’ve picked up from others isn’t always clear, but what is clear is that they have to be brought, even if they’re kicking and screaming, for a trip to care for their dental health.
The solution to this isn’t avoiding trips to the dentist. In fact, letting the youngster get his or her way by not making the visit can see small and easily treated tooth problems become big ones that can require major, and sometimes even, painful work.
Getting problems treated early is key. But how do you get your kid to loosen any fears or concerns about going to the dentist? The following five tips can help make your child’s trip to the dentist a lot easier.
Talk about it before the dental trip
Don’t dodge the facts of why they need to see the dentist. Explain to them, in general terms, why seeing a dentist is important for their health.
You should also give them a broad-strokes understanding of what the dentist will do – but don’t go into all the details. This can overwhelm them or make them worry.
Talk about it after the dental trip, too!
After they’ve finished their dentist visit, talk about how it went.
Was there anything that they were interested in learning more about? Anything that was uncomfortable – reasonable or not – or that they simply didn’t like? Do they have any questions about the visit? Getting this information is key, as you can then have a chat with the dentist after the appointment to find ways to make their next appointment go more smoothly.
Don’t bribe them to go
Many parents prefer the carrot (as in carrot and stick) approach to getting their kids to go to the dentist –if they do go, they get a reward. Avoid trying to lure them with a reward, as this can make them expect something bad will happen. Instead, congratulate them after the visit using positive enforcement.
Visit by their second birthday
Taking your tot to the dentist – bringing them along for your visit – is a good way to introduce them and get them comfortable to dental visits. Introduce the dentist as a friend who is going to keep their mouth healthy and happy instead of preparing them for any potential pain.
When they’re older, take them for a non-dental visit to the dentist
When your child is a bit older, take them for a friendly hello with the dentist when there isn’t an appointment. Much like taking your pet to the vet for a treat when you don’t have an appointment, it will help them disassociate the building with discomfort. Watching what dentists do can calm children in the dental office!