Are you struggling to get your child to a dentist? Nobody wants to see their child in distress, but when it comes to their own health you have to the tough call. Your children need to have regular dental check-ups and procedures to safeguard their oral health. If you are visiting for the first time or are making an appointment for a nervous child, there are a few things you can do to make the visit easier. Read on to find out our 7 parenting tips for a child’s dental appointment.
1. Make It Important
Making the visit important is a fine balancing act. On one hand, you do not want to overstress the issue, as the child will feel it is a big occasion and may feel pressured. However, it is important that your child knows why they are visiting.
In fact, the importance of good dental hygiene should be a holistic approach, and not one that is only brought up when a child is en route to dental surgery. In the early years of development, a trip to the dentist is imperative as it normalizes the situation and prevents the fears that may come if only attending later in life.
Explain to your child from an early age that brushing teeth, flossing, and regular dentist check-ups are important for their health. Let them know which foods can be damaging to their teeth, and instill autonomy in them regarding the benefits of oral hygiene. Finally, let them know that going to the dentist is a very grown-up, adult thing to do and reward them for mature behavior.
2. Set an Example
No matter what your own thoughts on the dentist may be, it is important you must not project these onto your child. Even if you have a fear of the dentist and walk in the door sweating, you must make sure your child does not see this.
One way to model good behavior is for your child to accompany an adult on a dental trip. Make sure the adult is not fearful of the dentist and can show the child what happens and how you should behave. This will also ensure the environment of the surgery is not alien to them.
Encourage the child to ask questions while on the trip. If the dentist allows it, they may even be able to ask questions to them or the dental assistant.
3. Discuss the Dental Appointment
Children like to talk and absorb experiences. They may have been chatting to other children in the playground who have exaggerated their dental experiences. They may also have absorbed information about the dentist from the media and other snippets of conversation, which are likely to be negative.
Your child trusts you, so talk with them about the dentist. Tell them why they need it, why it is important, and what they can expect when they go. Let them ask you questions and answer as honestly as you can.
If your child has had bad experiences at the dentist before, then let them know that every experience is different. You may wish to watch videos on Youtube with them or buy them a book to stop their worries.
4. Plan a Reward
To take the focus off the visit, it helps to have the trip to the dentist placed in with a normal daily routine. Having it as the solitary event of the day gives it focus and importance which your child may find intimidating. Instead, use the rest of the day to take their mind off the visit.
You may do a shopping trip or visit a relative beforehand. You can use this as an opportunity to discuss the trip in an informal setting. While here, think of a reward that you can promise your child after the visit.
The reward could be a meal they like to eat, a visit to a playground, or anything else that they like to do. This gives them an incentive to act mature and grown-up while on the visit. Remember to keep all language positive.
5. Aim for an Early Morning Appointment
Early morning appointments are a great option for children for a number of reasons. The first is that as they have just woke and had breakfast, they are less likely to be tired and fatigued. This can result in a better mood and more positivity when on a visit to the dentist.
Secondly, the child does not have all day to dwell, ponder and essentially, worry, about the visit. As soon as they are ready for the day, the trip will be over and they can return to school or kindergarten with the minimum of fuss.
6. Arrive Prepared
If your child has never visited the dentist before, it can be quite an intimidating place. The sound, sights, and smells are all new to them. It helps to have a few distractions on hand.
Bring along some of your child’s favorite toys or books for the waiting room. Any comforters, like blankets or plush toys, can also help.
7. Explore Sedation Options
After all of this, some children may just be fearful of the dentist. It happens and there is absolutely nothing wrong or irrational about it. We all have fears, it just happens that your child is afraid of visiting the dentist.
If this is the case and they need surgery, you should begin to discuss sedation options with the dentist. It will be safer and less stressful for your child. Options such as nitrous sedation can even be used for minor procedures like applying crowns or fillings.
Child Specialist Dentistry
The last option is to book a dental appointment with practitioners who specialize in pediatric dentistry. Kids Stop can help, with a range of experienced staff who can calm and soothe your child during any procedure. Call today to discuss your child’s needs and book an appointment.