As our children grow up, we make lots of efforts to keep them healthy. From being choosy about the foods they eat to encouraging physical activity, we all want healthy kids. That’s why we take them to the pediatrician, especially when it’s time for immunizations. While getting shots is a little scary, we all know how important it is to get our kids through those moments.
When it comes to dental visits though, it’s a whole new ball game. These appointments can be much scarier and more anxiety-ridden for kids than just a trip to the doctor’s office. In fact, it can even make it too difficult to get your child to cooperate during the visit. Even if you’ve taken steps to get your kids to like brushing their teeth, going to the dentist is always a little scary. Just like with the doctor though, there are steps you can take to make it less scary. These tips are sure to help ease your young one into the experience without so much trouble.
- Be honest, but be a little vague too. Giving too many details about what your child will experience at the office can be overwhelming. Don’t try to explain every dental procedure they might need. Instead, explain in simpler terms what the dentist is going to do or fix during the visit. Try the tried and true method saying the dentist only wants to count their teeth. A calm, soothing voice here helps to create trust. That confidence is important. You can use it to get your child through the toughest of visits. However, you must be careful to avoid breaching their trust in you! Avoid mentioning pain, but don’t tell them it’s going to feel fantastic, either. When they find out it doesn’t, they’ll wonder why you lied. Vague honesty is the best policy here. Let them know you’re in it together.
- Keep your concerns to yourself. Who says that going to the dentist is just anxiety-inducing for the little ones? It’s stressful for moms everywhere, too! Even if you had a truly awful experience (or several) with the dentist, don’t tell your child. Complain to your spouse about the memory if you want, but don’t tell your kids! If mommy sounds scared about the dentist, how can they feel confident when you say it’s OK? Let them know that everything is going to be okay. Consider the benefit of choosing a family practice dentist, like VSP Dental. When your dentist is the same as your kids, they’ll feel much more relaxed. After all, if you’re going too, it can’t be so bad, right?
- Be a supportive presence during the visit. It can take a while for your child to feel comfortable sitting in the dentist’s chair alone. Spend the visit by their side, and don’t forget to hold their hand! Even if it’s just a simple dental cleaning, this allows your child an outlet for any fear they experience. You might tell them to squeeze your hand to help them get through a difficult moment. As your kids grow older, you’ll be able to send them to the dental chair on their own, as their confidence will have improved and they’ll know more of what to expect. When they’re young, though, having their mother’s presence nearby can be very soothing.
- Treat your kids to something nice after the visit is over. Sometimes, a little reward goes a long way. Turning to positive reinforcement can help even anxious children endure a dental trip. It doesn’t need to be big, fancy, or expensive. A trip to the movies or activity they enjoy can make the memory of the office visit fade within hours. Once they know they get to have some fun after the dentist, convincing them it will be OK is easier. Just remember to follow up on your promises, or this method won’t work at all!
From prepping your child pre-visit to the aftermath, there’s plenty you can do to make the day easier. A trip to the dentist should be comfortable and relaxed for all involved. Speak to your family dentist especially if your child is anxious. They can help you to formulate strategies for coping with the issue. In the end, it’s all worth the effort. After all, you’re trying to instill excellent dental habits in your kids for life!