Most adults cringe when they think of planning a trip to the dentist, so imagine how most kids feel! The dentist’s office may top the list, or at least land in the top three, of worst places to visit. So in light of this knowledge that many of us can agree on, how do we make the dentist’s office a pleasant, or at least a tolerable place your child finds themselves in every six months?
Choose a Kid-Friendly Dentist Office
Your child will feel more at ease and be able to unwind before their appointment if the dentist’s office is filled with toys, kid-friendly furniture and artwork. Pediatric dental offices are similar to pediatrician’s offices in that they appeals to kids. While you may trust in your dentist, your child might feel more comfortable in an environment that caters to them.
Stick By Your Child
Children feel more comfortable when they have a guardian around them in an atmosphere they aren’t familiar with. Make sure to follow your child into the exam room and keep them company. This is also a great way to keep up on what’s going on in your child’s mouth by asking the dental hygienist and the dentist questions.
Reward Your Child
I don’t know a single child who can’t be bribed…I mean REWARDED for good behavior. Being a good boy or girl at the dentist’s office calls for some kind of reward, don’t you think? If your child knows that there is something special waiting for them at the end of their visit, they will be more likely to cooperate in the dentist’s chair and will find more excitement in what comes after their visit rather than focusing on the negative feelings they may possess.
These can be rewards you were planning on giving your child anyway, just time the delivery after their dental visit. Keep in mind that they did just get their teeth cleaned and polished, so stay away from rewards that include sugary foods or beverages.
A few special rewards your child may enjoy after the dentist can include:
- A trip to the library or bookstore to pick out a new book
- Go see a movie or a play (Bring along some healthy snacks!)
- Keep them out of school for the rest of the day (These visits only happen twice a year!)
- Bring them to a museum with interactive exhibits
- Buy them a new game on the iPad or computer that they’ll enjoy
- Paint your own ceramics at a pottery studio
Don’t Let Your Dental Anxiety Show
As a parent, children take the cues you give off. If you’re nervous about your dentist visit chances are they will be nervous too. Let your child know you have a dentist appointment and talk to them about the positives of your visit. After all, there ARE positives about going to the dentist: they clean your teeth, you get a fun new toothbrush and toothpaste, and you get to see really cool x-rays of your mouth.
If you relay good experiences at the dentist to your child then they are more likely to not put up a stink about going or harvest their own anxieties.
Dental anxiety can be overcome, and it’s better that your child overcome their fear earlier rather than carry it into their adulthood. The dentist may not be the most fun and entertaining place in the world, but it certainly is a necessity and those who care for their teeth properly will be making less dental visits in the future!
Rory Mycek is a guest contributor from www.TopDentists.com, the dental resource site in the same network as What To Expect.