Tips for Managing Pediatric Dental Anxiety
A child’s first visit to the dentist can sometimes be stressful, for the child and the parent. But as long as it is approached properly, it can be a fun and beneficial process. Here are some helpful tips to help out your child for their first visit to the dentist.
Start Dental Visits While They’re Young
It is advised that a child has their first dentist’s appointment as soon as their first tooth appears or by their first birthday. It is important to start the visits to dentists from an early age to establish a familiar pattern. Not only is an early checkup good for oral health, it can make your child more comfortable at the dentist.
Communicate, But Keep It Simple
Springing a dental appointment on your child at the last minute can cause stress. It is best to let them know in advance, but not dwell on it. Reminding them periodically using some of the tips below will also be helpful. If your child has any questions, make sure they feel comfortable to ask them. Avoid phrases like “Everything will be fine,” just in case some dental work is needed. Use words like “strong,” “clean” and “healthy” to add positive connotations.
Go to a Family Dentist
Dental clinics that focus on the whole family are an important factor to think about. Your children will trust the same dentist you trust, and a family dentist is better equipped to take care of little ones.
Teach the Importance of Oral Health and Lead by Example
Children have a habit of repeating nearly everything they see, so lead by example and brush your teeth with your children. If you are anxious about a dental visit, your children will see that and copy that behavior. It is important to remain comfortable at all times.
Play “Dentist” at Home
Demystify the visit to a dentist by playing dentist at home. Take turns counting and “cleaning” each other’s teeth and show them that it is a simple and easy process. Stuffed animals and dolls are also great tools for showing what a visit will be like.
Read Dental Storybooks to Your Kids
There are quite a few children’s books dedicated to going to the dentist and explaining it to your kids. These books are made to reduce fear and increase trust, and can be a fun nighttime activity leading up to the first visit.