As a family dentist, we enjoy treating young children. We believe that by helping children to develop good oral health while they are young, we can foster good habits that will remain in place as they age. Still, we understand that the idea of visiting a dentist can be intimidating for many children.
Thus, it takes a team approach between our office and parents to help children become comfortable with the general process. Here are some ways that parents can help children to be comfortable visiting the dentist.
#1. Bring them by for a visit
A child does not need to wait for the official appointment time to visit the dentist's office. Bring them by and our staff would be happy to give them a tour. Having the initial exposure to the office without being in the dental chair can make it easier when the actual appointment time occurs.
Children are naturally more comfortable with things they are familiar with so this additional 15 minutes can make a huge difference in their overall reaction and impression.
#2. Talk about what will happen
Children do best when they feel prepared for what is going to happen. Talk about what it is like to visit the family dentist. Explain how a dentist will count their teeth and polish them for a beautiful smile.
Talk about how a dentist is friendly and a nice person that is there to assist them - we are excited to meet your child and our goal is to make this a wonderful experience for them!
#3. Read books and watch cartoons
PBS has done an excellent job of tackling issues like oral and physical health in their many television shows. Sesame Street, The Berenstein Bears, etc., all have cartoons and books out about visiting the dentist. Pick them up at the library or even find them on YouTube.
Playing the videos for a child and reading books to them will create a sense of familiarity with the dentist. Since these are characters they are used to, knowing that these cartoon characters also visit a family dentist may make them more excited to do so themselves.
#4. Play pretend
Children learn a lot through play. Pretend that they are the dentist and you are the patient and then reverse rules. Give each other a dental exam and pretend to see what is happening with the mouth by shining a flashlight or even using a toothbrush. This allows a child to work out some of their fears and anxieties.
Children will also be able to receive answers to questions in a non-intimidating fashion. This also works by cleaning a stuffed animal's teeth or using a doll in the make-believe game. That same animal or doll can then go with them to their actual appointment.
#5. Use rewards
Tell a child that if they do well at their appointment to the family dentist's office they will go to the park afterward or do something special with them. Rewards are good incentives and they give a child something to look forward to so that they are thinking about the fun activity rather than the actual appointment.
We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.