For many children, taking a trip to the dentist can be a stressful and scary experience. However, taking your children to the dentist is a necessity in order to keep their teeth clean and healthy, and to start a good oral health care routine. For young children, having to lie in a big chair, under lights and in a room with which they are unfamiliar can seem terrifying. There are a couple of things you can do to make sure your child becomes less fearful of the dentist.
First, make sure that you start visiting the dentist while they are young. First dental appointments should happen six months after the first tooth grows in. If you establish a dentist’s office early, they will be more comfortable going back, as the office and the routine becomes more familiar to them. When the time for the first visit arises, it helps not to include too many details about the upcoming experience. While it may seem like a good idea to talk them through it so they are prepared, in many cases talking about the details makes the children more nervous about what is going to happen. You want to make sure you stay positive when talking about the appointment, but be sure not to make any promises about what is going to happen. If they end up needing treatment you don’t want to break that promise, because the child may not trust the dentist or you as much.
Be careful how you phrase things when talking about the visit to the dentist. Pediatric dentists have developed a good way to navigate through the process. They will use silly terms to describe what they are doing that will help make the child feel more comfortable. Remember that using words like hurt, or pain, may make it scarier for your child, and could cause anxiety. Try to keep the talk positive. For example, you can tell them, “The dentist is going to make sure your teeth are strong and healthy.”
Try playing pretend before you take your child to the dentist. Make a game out of playing dentist and let your child experience what will happen in an environment in which he or she is comfortable. Get a toothbrush and have them sit in a chair while you brush their teeth. After this, let them play dentist and have them pretend to brush your teeth or the teeth of their stuffed animals or dolls.