3 Easy Ways to Make Your Child’s Dental Appointment Fun
Approximately one in seven people are affected by dental anxiety. Strange smells, sharp instruments and strangers attributes to this anxiety, but for children it can be made even worse due to uncertainty of what to expect. Below we’ve outlined three simple ways that parents can use to ease their child’s fears about the dentist and make it — dare we say it? — FUN!
Choose the Right Dentist
This may seem like a no-brainer, but not all dentists specialize in pediatric dentistry or strive to create an inviting and welcome environment for children. The dentists at TruFamily Dental do, though, and we work hard to create a kid-friendly environment to make your child’s trip to the dentist not only hassle-free, but enjoyable, too.
Good pediatric dentists understand that it may take time to earn a child’s trust. He or she will speak clearly, slowly and gauge your child’s reactions to what’s going on. A pediatric dentist will use tools to help ease anxiety like telling stories to distract your child during the visit. When your child feels comfortable with his or her dentist, then the rest of the visit will be manageable and possibly even fun.
Aside from the dentist, the hygienist is also very important. If your child has a favorite hygienist who has established a rapport with him or her, be sure to request the same hygienist for each visit. This can build a sense of trust and minimize any fear of new people that can occur when hygienists change at each visit.
Talk to your children about what to expect at the dentist visit and be sure to answer any questions or concerns they have. Depending on how your child best receives information, you may want to use visual cues or storytelling to talk about going to the dentist. Minimize uncertainty by describing what will happen, each step as it happens and what it will be like afterward. Make sure your child understands the purpose of going to the dentist, which is to have a healthy mouth and teeth. Avoid telling your child negative stories about when you went to the dentist and use language that is positive and reinforcing. Stay away from words like “sharp,” “hurt” and “pain.”
The American Dental Association (ADA) has a children’s dental health ambassador named Dudley. He has a series of videos that your child can watch before going to the dentist that show his first trip to the dentist, losing teeth and why kids should wear a mouthguard. Dudley is a fun way to make your child familiar with and accustomed to the idea of a dental appointment. Dudley also has tooth-related games and quizzes that make waiting rooms more entertaining.
Plan a Reward
Instead of focusing on “surviving” the trip to the dentist, focus on your child’s success in an activity that ensures healthy mouth care and a sparkling smile. Plan something fun after the dentist such as a trip the movies, a park or a museum. You could do a new activity together such as creating your own Dudley the Dinosaur.
Avoid sugary rewards, because this goes against the whole point of visiting the dentist. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a reward for your child, but you can find something that is meaningful to each child. Choose something that is simple positive reinforcement for the trip to the dentist that may make them want to return.
A trip to the dentist doesn’t need to be scary. In fact, some children look forward to going to the dentist thanks to the fun environment, toys, games and videos that are shown in the office. The right dentist will also build trust and a relationship with your child so that she enjoys the visit. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and this is a great time to educate yourself and your child about healthy mouth care. With the right team and support from you as the parent, your child can look forward to years of visits that lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles.
Posted In: Pediatric Dental Care