For most adults, a visit to the dentist is a routine part of life, but for a child, the dental surgery can be an unfamiliar place and seem scary. Small children often think the dentist is going to hurt them or they become anxious because they don’t know what to expect. It is important that children become familiar and at ease at the dentist from a young age so that any issues can be addressed before they become major problems. If your child hasn’t been to the dentist before or is anxious about a future appointment here are some tips to help ease their fears-
Be a good role model
There are several ways to be a good dental role model to your child. You can take your child with you when you are having your routine check and clean appointment. Talk to you your child about the process and smile whilst being examined. Let your child see that a trip to the dentist is painless. Talk to your child afterward about how great your teeth feel so they can see the dentist as a positive experience. Another way to be a good dental role model is to brush and floss daily. Letting your child see your cleaning habits and encouraging them to do the same will instil great oral hygiene from a young age.
Explain the procedure and what will happen
Children often feel anxious about the dentist because they don’t know what will happen during the appointment. In the day leading up to the appointment explain to your child what the dentist will do and that the dentist won’t hurt them. While at the dental appointment the dentist can explain any treatment that is needed and talk the child through the process so they are prepared for any noises they may hear and anything they may feel that is unfamiliar.
Allow your child to use distractions such as watching a television or even bringing their favourite toy. Doing this can help keep their mind elsewhere while the treatment is going on. Having things to hold and look at will distract them and make them less afraid.
If you think sedation may be the best option for your child don’t hesitate to ask. Your dentist will be able to tell you if sedation is necessary or not. In most cases the child will be nervous and uncooperative for the first visit but any other visits after that they seem to be less anxious and happy to cooperate with the dentist for treatment. Sometimes when sedation is required your dentist may refer you to a specialist paediatric dentist.
Reward your child
A simple gift to reward your child bravery will help them to associate the dentist with gifts and treats. Rewarding your child make the experience positive and it will be more than likely easier to get them back in for their next appointment.
Helping your child overcome their fear of the dentist from an early age will set the foundation for healthy teeth and gums for life. Dental treatments don’t need to be scary and if your child allows the dentist to check their teeth regularly the less likely they are to need expensive dental treatments in the future.