For some parents, taking their child to see a dentist is often a challenge. Dental phobia and anxiety is a problem that affects millions of people worldwide, including adults. In many instances, this fear prevents people from the regular checkups they need to maintain proper oral health.
If your kids get scared of the dentist, it is advisable to find a quick and lasting solution before it develops into chronic fear. Here are some useful tips on how to prepare kids for dentist appointments.
The younger you start dental appointments for your kids, the better. It provides them with a dental home; the dentist takes care of all their needs, both preventative and treatment. It is advisable to take your child to the dentist after their first birthday or when the first tooth appears.
Arrange a Pre-appointment Meeting
A short meeting with the dentist before the appointment is an excellent way of reducing your child's fear and anxiety. This meeting provides an opportunity for your child to familiarise with the dental staff and office. It also offers the dentist a chance to know their would-be patient, build rapport with them, and then take the initial steps towards a lasting relationship.
Hold a Mock Dental Appointment
Practicing is another smart way of helping your kids become less fearful of dental appointments. You can prepare your child for future visits by hosting a pretend session where you do what a dentist would do.
For instance, you can ask them to open their mouths and check their teeth' condition, like a dentist always does when evaluating patients. That said, you should avoid making drilling sounds and other noises made in dental offices, as they can worsen the fear and anxiety.
Watch Your Words
When booking a dental appointment, it would help if you avoided extra details because they can overwhelm your kid. As a parent, it is your responsibility to ensure that the child is comfortable before visiting the dentist. Too many details often increase nervousness.
Consider carrying toys and try to remain positive and upbeat throughout the visit. Keeping it simple and fun makes the child happy and attentive, which is crucial when teaching them the importance of oral hygiene.
Emphasize the Importance of Oral Hygiene
Stress the importance of maintaining oral hygiene to your children from a young age. More specifically, you need to reiterate the significance of regular dental appointments, as a dentist can help prevent oral complications.
You can begin by establishing a daily brushing and flossing routine and ensuring that your kids follow it. Keep in mind that poor oral hygiene habits start early in life and can cause severe complications to kids as they get older.
Provide Positive Reinforcement
Give your child an incentive to think about after a successful dental appointment. For instance, you can reward them by taking them to a children's park after visiting the dentist. While this might seem like bribing, it increases the chances of positive behavior in subsequent dental appointments.
The best thing you can do to your child is taking them to a pediatric dentist. These are specially trained to handle young patients, meaning that your kid is likely to be at ease during the checkup. Pediatric dental clinics also have equipment and amenities aimed at making your child's visit fun.
Finally, it is advisable to book dental appointments for your kids once the first tooth erupts or on their first birthday. Starting early is a proven way of preventing dental phobia, and it significantly reduces the risk of oral diseases later in life.