It’s not surprising that many young children feel anxious about visiting the dentist. Don’t worry, it’s totally normal but it’s still important that as parents, you take their emotions to heart (like you always do) and ease their thoughts on the matter. The best way to do that is to speak to them about it. Explain why visiting the dentist is a good thing, what they can expect, and why they don’t need to worry about it.
You likely don’t like visiting the dentist either, for many reasons. Appointments can be a hassle, there is a cost involved, your time in the chair can be uncomfortable, and it can be a stressful experience, like with any medical appointment. For your child, it will be a new experience, with strangers, in a scary setting, and having their mouth examined will be scary. All of this means preparing them as best you can is a good idea. Thinking about what makes you anxious can help come up with some talking points you can discuss with your child.
Let’s go over some of the best ways to speak to your children about visiting the dentist.
When you speak to your child, be positive and excited
Children feed off your emotions so if you’re worried or anxious, they will be too. Whenever the dentist topic comes up, make sure you frame everything in a positive light. Act happy to be visiting a childrens dentist with them and tell them how nice the person is. It’ll be a fun day exploring a new experience and you’re looking forward to it. Never let them know that you yourself are anxious about the dentist because that’s what your child will latch onto.
Tell them what to expect and that it’s not a big deal
Fear of the unknown is a very real issue with young kids, which is a fairly easy hurdle to overcome in this case. Sit your child down and walk them through what will happen. Your child will get to sit in a big comfy chair, see a lot of cool machines, meet some really friendly people, and they can show you how grown up they are by letting the dentist check on their teeth. Keep things simple and avoid using words like needle or drill – your child likely won’t be faced with those tools anyways.
Prepare them by practicing
A good tactic is to run through a mock dental checkup with your child. That means practicing some oral health care routines, like gently putting a toothbrush or finger in their mouth to get them used to the idea. A little role playing can help alleviate the anxiety.
Let them know you’ll be there with them
Mommy or daddy isn’t going anywhere. You’ll be with your child every step of the way and you won’t let anything bad happen. Children draw so much comfort from knowing their parents are with them, so making sure you’ve assured them of that can go a long way to making it an anxiety free experience.
Promise them a small reward
Whether it’s a small toy, a McDonalds happy meal, or maybe just some candy – having something for your child to look forward too can work wonders for their attitude. Your dentist will likely be prepared with something like a lollipop and dental care loot bag, but you can help sweeten the deal.
Your child will need to visit the dentist when they are still pretty young, but it’s a good thing. Starting on their oral health early means they’ll have a sold foundation to build on as they grow up. It’s important for parents to set the tone and keep things in perspective so that your child doesn’t grow up with an unnecessary fear of visiting the dentist. It’s not that hard, and we know you’ve got this!
If you’re currently looking for a trustworthy dentist for your child, you can check out Dentist Charmaine Johnson DDS to get started.