Going to the dentist is an important part of oral hygiene. Regular visits help ensure your teeth are healthy, clean, and part of a confident smile. You know this from years of experience—but your children are still new to the idea.
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You’ve done everything you can to prepare them for their visit, but when the big day arrives, how do you ensure stress levels stay low and excitement stays high? A lot of the groundwork is done at home by reading books and pretending to be a dentist during playtime, but now it’s game time—your kid is sitting in the big chair.
Here are a few ways you can help ensure your child’s visit to the dentist is stress-free.
Find a Great Pediatric Dentist
Kids are clever and will come up with the most interesting ways to not like something. Why not stack the deck in your favour by going to a great pediatric dentist? Pediatric dentists spend their days working with kids. By enlisting the experts, you’re putting an ally in your corner who is educated and knows how to talk to kids.
Bring Along a Plush Friend
Does your child have a safety blanket or a favourite stuffed animal? Bring it along! A comfort object goes a long way to supporting your kid’s emotional health.
It’s a great way for a new dentist to start building rapport (“Say, that’s a mighty fine tiger you have there. What’s its name?”) and get your child comfortable. It can even be used as an example first for how all the tools work—because if Hobbes is brave enough to experience the tooth cleaner, your kid will be too.
This piece of advice has two layers. First, starting early means scheduling dental visits as soon as the first tooth comes in. This removes the mystery (and fear) of the unknown early on when everything is new. Your baby or toddler will become familiar with the dentist. As your child grows up, they’ll become accustomed to this part of oral hygiene.
Starting early also means reading stories about going to the dentist and playing games about dentistry at home. Get your child familiar with the process in different ways and you’ll ease any lingering fears.
Watch Your Language
There are many negatively charged words that are associated with dental visits. “Drilling,” “cavities,” “pain,” and “needles” are just a few. Be careful about the language you use at home when talking about the dentist.
Kids will pick up on these subtleties, so don’t build up the fear. Use positive language and terms your children will understand (like “sugar bugs” instead of bacteria).
Use (a Little Bit of) Bribery…
Bribing your kids to do things isn’t always the best option and can backfire. But if done right, this strategy can be helpful during and after a visit to the dentist. Kids love receiving cool prizes, so if they know they’ll get a reward for cooperating in the dental chair, they’ll be calmer during the visit.
Here’s where the trick comes in: If the prize is a super cool, themed toothbrush featuring your child’s favourite Disney character, you’ve just convinced them to not only be good at the dentist but excited about brushing their teeth at home.
Visits to the dentist don’t need to be overwhelming ordeals. With a little bit of prep work and a great pediatric dentist, you can turn visits to the dentist into adventures! Your kids will learn to love, anticipate, and ask for visits to the dentist.