Dental anxiety is a fairly common issue among kids. From a child's perspective, the strange environment with someone poking through their mouths with metal instruments can be scary. Sadly, the fear developed can have far-reaching effects on their overall oral health, even as adults.
Making your child excited and comfortable with the trip to the dentist is one of the best ways to lay a firm foundation for good dental hygiene. Read on to find out five tips that you can use to ease your child's fear of dental appointments.
Set the Right Precedence
Good oral hygiene habits are developed early. You should schedule your child's first dental appointment within six months of the first tooth appearing. The earlier your child meets the dentist, the more comfortable they may feel about their services.
Taking your child to the dentist every six months can make it easier for them to learn and appreciate the need for pediatric dental care. Your kid will learn to honor their dentist appointments even in adulthood.
Take Your Child to a Pediatric Dentist
The setting at a general dentist's office can be off-putting for most kids. The sterile and dull environment can heighten your child's anxiety, presenting it as a scary place. The American Dental Association recommends taking your child to a pediatric dental office like Von Chan DDS.
Pediatric dentists receive formal training on handling a child's oral health from infancy to late teenage years. Additionally, the setting in a pediatric dental office is kid-friendly, with colorful walls and toys at the reception to calm an anxious child.
You can organize a quick drop-in at the pediatric dentist's office without seeking any treatment. Your child can build a rapport with the staff and the pedodontist, making it comfortable for them to come in for the dental appointment.
You can turn the discussion about the visit to the dentist into a game. You can play dentist at home with your child. All you need is just a toothbrush.
You can take turns playing dentist and patient with your kid. You can start with simple activities such as counting teeth. You can use the toothbrush to introduce teeth cleaning.
Mind Your Language
As you discuss and play dentist, you may need to watch the words you use. Terms such as "shot" and "drill" can instill fear in your child. You may need to avoid using them. Drilling sounds can also create a negative perception of dental visits.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Children pick up cues left behind by adults. Negative talk about dental visits or your dental fear can rub off on your child. Avoid using dental treatment as a threat to push your child to brush and floss their teeth.
You may use treats, such as a trip to the park after the appointment to entice your child to see the dentist. Some pediatric dental offices also provide rewards, allowing the kids to choose an item from a treasure box.
Dental anxiety can hold off your child from seeking the dental treatments and appointments that they require. You can use the tips above to ease your kid's fear of the dentist.