The dreaded dentist…
Have you ever dreaded going to the dentist? If so, you are not alone. A visit to the dentist can be very anxiety-provoking. This fear can often lead to putting off dental work, making things worse. If you are the parent of a child who fears the dentist, you can attest to the difficulty of coaxing a child into the dentist’s chair if they don’t want to be there. Or, you yourself may be fearful of the dentist. This is not an uncommon fear, especially if you have had a negative experience in the past.
For children, going to the dentist can be particularly frightening. Adding to this problem is not only their fear of the dentist’s drill, but also of the shots that go along with many procedures. The time it takes to calm children, administer the anesthetic, wait for it to take effect and begin the work makes dental visits quite an ordeal.
To help ease future visits for your child (and for the dentist), follow these steps to help them feel comfortable and more relaxed.
The earlier that a child visits the dentist the better. We recommend 6 months after their first tooth comes in.
Keep It Simple
When preparing for a visit, especially the first time, try not to include too many details. Doing so will raise more questions, and adding more information about an extra treatment like a filling they may need may cause unnecessary anxiety. Keep a positive attitude when discussing an upcoming visit, but don’t give your child false hope. Avoid saying that everything will be fine, because if your child ends up needing treatment, they may lose trust in both the dentist and you.
Watch Your Words
Watch your words when talking about the dentist. We recommend not using words like shot, pain, or hurt. Let the staff introduce their own vocabulary to the children to help get them through difficult situations. Instead tell your child that the dentist is looking for “sugar bugs”, and are going to clean them off of your teeth. You can also tell them that the dentist is going to check their smile and count their teeth. Use positive phrases such as; clean, strong, healthy teeth to make the visit seem fun and good rather than scary and alarming.
Consider A Pretend Visit
Before the first dental appointment, play pretend with your child. You be the dentist, and the child be the patient. All you need is a toothbrush. Count your little ones teeth. Avoid making drilling noises, or lining up other instruments. You can even hold up a mirror, and show your child how a dentist may look at their teeth. Let your child brush their stuffed animals or dolls teeth for practice.
Do Not Try To Relate
Some parents take their children with them to their own dental appointments, but we recommend to not do this as parents themselves may feel anxious about the visit without even realizing it, and the child may sense those fears. They need to see a pediatric dentist that has a child friendly environment with things like video games, tv screens, pleasing pictures on the wall , toys and books.
Prepare For Some Fussing
It is normal and age appropriate for a child to cry, whine, wiggle, and not want to be examined by a stranger. Stay calm and remember that the dentist and their staff are used to working with children and have seen their share of tantrums. Let the dental care professional guide you.
Many experts do not recommend promising your child a special treat if they behave well at the dentist. Doing so will only increase their apprehension. Promising a sugary treat will also send mixed messages after the dentist emphasizes clean, healthy teeth by avoiding sweets that cause cavities. Instead praise your child for good behaviour and bravery.
Emphasize The Importance Of Good Oral Hygiene
Teach your child that going to the dentist is a necessity, not a choice, and that the dentist will help take good care of their teeth.
At Signature Smiles, we are here for you and want to help you achieve the best smile possible. If you have any questions about your child’s dental health or need to schedule an appointment, please call 403-603-3364.
Remember that children under the age of three are always FREE.