Many children seem to have a seemingly innate aversion to going to the dentist. The reasons behind this are largely unclear. Perhaps they pick up on your emotional cues and mimic your feelings. Or maybe it is a fear of the unknown. Then again, it could also be that it can be awkward to have someone else’s hands in your mouth, and children do not understand the necessity of this experience. Whatever the case may be, to foster good lifelong oral health habits in your child, you will need to do everything you can to make them comfortable with going to the dentist. These are a few tricks and tips to do just that.
Get Your Child Used To Dental Hygiene
First and foremost, in order for a trip to the dentist to seem as innocuous as possible, your child must already be accustomed to participating in a regular oral health routine. Start them brushing their teeth as early as possible.
Emphasis to them the importance of a clean, healthy mouth. However, do not frame your arguments negatively or threateningly. In other words, do not say that your child needs to brush their teeth or they will get cavities and need filings. This makes children associate going to the dentist with punishment for bad behavior.
Instead, tell children the benefits of regular brushing. Talk about good breath, pretty teeth, and a clean, healthy mouth as results of brushing their teeth. These positive associations are more effective at fostering good habits than negativity and threats.
Read Books About Going To The Dentist With Your Child
You can find a children’s book that covers just about any subject imaginable that can affect your child as they grow up, and visiting the dentist is no exception. If your child has a favorite book series, look to see if they have a dentist-related book. Chances are, if they are a series that focuses on characters that have common childhood experience, they do have such a book.
Otherwise, there are several books that either fictionalize trips to the dentist or simply explain to children what a dental visit entails. Read these books with your child. As you do, ask them questions and discuss the subject with them. Allow them to ask any questions they may have about dentists.
Just remember to keep it positive throughout the discussion. Do not tell them about your negative experiences at the dentist as a child or adult. And definitely do not talk about shots or the possibility of pain. This will only frighten your child and create anxiety.
Play Make-Believe With Your Child
Have a pretend dentist visit with your child. You can do this any number of ways. For example, you could have a doll or stuffed animal play the patient, and you and your child could be the dentists. As you guide the pretend visit, try to mimic and actual dental appointment as closely as possible, and explain everything you are doing.
You could also have your child play the patient to get them used to the experience in a comfortable setting. The choice is yours. However, this act of playing and pretending can be your best tool for preparing your child for their dentist appointments. Sensory memory is extremely powerful, and your child will likely remember what they acted out far better than what they were told and/or read and discussed.
If you use these tricks and tips to get your child comfortable with going to a dentist (such as one from Park Ave Dental Clinic), their fears should subside and they should be able to have a positive dental appointment experience. Remember to stow any negative feelings or associations you may have about dentists. Your child will pick up on your words and your attitude and mimic them. So be positive and prepare your child for their appointment using these tricks.