Taking your bundle of joy to the dentist, doctor, or even to get their hair cut can be a nightmare for any parent. Young children hate their personal space being invaded, especially by strangers.
It can be an even more troubling experience if they haven’t been to the doctor or dentist before, and don’t that what will happen might be uncomfortable or painful. This isn’t exclusive to children – as we all know, even adults feel this way about medical appointments!
Help your child understand that having a dentist appointment needn’t be a thing to fear. Follow these helpful tips from parents and dentists themselves about how to make your dentist visit as painless as possible.
Give Your Child a Pep Talk
If your child is very young and about to visit the dentist for the first time, there are several routes you can take to prepare them. You could:
- Explain that the man or lady is going to look in their mouth to check that everything is okay in there – that’s it! It’s likely to take only a couple of minutes, and will help their teeth grow strong and healthy. Reassure them that mom and dad have had it done many times, and it isn’t a big deal.
- ‘Role play’ and give them a run-through of what will happen. Pretend that they are the patient, or use a doll or stuffed toy.
- If your child is confident around strangers and has been to the doctors before with no issues, you might feel it’s best to say nothing! Warning them about what will happen might cause unnecessary worry.
When they’re very young, all the dentist will do is count teeth, check their positions, and see that everything is progressing as it should. What’s more is that all dentists and hygiene experts are trained in how to treat children, so they know all the tips and tricks to make your child feel at ease. They keep it brief and often give out a sticker at the end to make your child feel special.
Despite this, being put on the spot on the dentist’s chair by themselves could cause your child some anxiety. Most dentists will let you sit with your child on your lap to make the process easier.
If your child has been to the dentist before and is apprehensive, reassure them that nothing bad will happen, and it will all be over in a minute. Take your child to a special child friendly dentist surgery to put you both at greater ease.
Teach Your Child About Dental Hygiene
Another way to reassure your child is to teach them all about teeth and good dental hygiene at home. Minimise the risk of any dental work needing to be done by ensuring your child looks after his or her teeth properly.
Stick to a diet free from very sugary foods, or teach the importance of great brushing and drinking water after eating sugary foods. Sugar causes cavities, which means that fillings and surgery may need to be done, which means more dentist trips.
Ration candy, soda, and even fruits and juices, as these all cause a massive attack of sugar to the delicate tooth enamel. Especially when children are young and still have their primary teeth, they are more susceptible to tooth decay and gum problems caused by sugar.
After Your Dentist Trip
Promise your child a treat afterwards (obviously not something sugary!), or a trip somewhere they love, as a reward for being brave.
Once you’ve left the premises, you can have a chat about how there’s nothing to fear, and how the dentist and nurses there were helpful and nice. Discuss and reaffirm everything the dentist told your child about looking after their teeth, how precious teeth are, and that you only get two sets!