Is your child afraid to go to the dentist? Parents can supervise good oral hygiene practice at home, but children need regular dental exams just like adults. If your child resists visiting the dentist, it can be challenging for parents to stick to the biannual dental checkup routine. Here are a few suggestions for parents who want to encourage children to form a lifelong partnership with their dentist and maintain their oral health as they grow.
Make the First Visit Positive
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests children first visit the dentist at age 1 or when their first tooth develops. The first dental appointment is the most important because it shapes the child’s perception of the dentist. Visit a dentist who has proven success communicating with children. After the appointment ends, engage in a fun activity with your child, such as a visit to the playground. Your children will associate a dental checkup with excitement and enjoyment – a perfect way to reduce apprehension over future appointments.
Examine Your Own Attitude
In some cases, children may follow their parents’ cues when responding to strange and uncomfortable situations. If you are hesitant and nervous during the car ride over to the dentist’s office, the child may sense this and respond in kind. Parents who dislike dental appointments should not schedule their own appointment at the same time as their child’s. That way, you will feel less trepidation and have the freedom to focus on making the experience a positive one for your child.
Talk About the Specific Fear
If your children fear the dentist, ask them what they are most afraid of when it comes to a checkup. Are they scared their parent will leave the room? Are they nervous the dentist will hurt their teeth? Talk with your dentist about ways to soothe the child during the visit. Perhaps the parent can stay in the room and hold their child’s hand. Perhaps the dentist can fully explain what he or she is about to do before it’s done, reducing the uncertainty the child may feel. If you enter the dentist’s office with a clear plan on how to overcome the child’s fear, he or she will feel in control and safe.
Visit Once Every Six Months – Maintain Oral Health at Home
Visit the dentist every six months so children do not forget the enjoyable time they had at their previous visit. It’s also important to stick to the recommended appointment schedule and to ensure children’s teeth are brushed and flossed daily. This will prevent cavities and toothaches and the need for fillings at their next appointment. Children with healthy teeth and gums will not associate the dentist with pain, only satisfaction, as they are congratulated for a job well done taking care of their teeth.
If you have a child who is afraid of the dentist, try scheduling a friendly appointment with the welcoming dental professionals at Oak Hills Dentistry and transform your child’s attitude from fearful to fun filled.