“I don’t want to go to the dentist!”
There it is— the sentence that you’ve most likely heard before from your child, from a line in a movie, or maybe even from yourself when you were younger. Going to the dentist is no picnic when you have a kid. There are far too many children who are afraid of the chair, white coat, and clean silver equipment laid neatly on the table. But it doesn’t have to be hard! Going to the dentist can just be as normal as having their hair cut. With the right mindset, children can even enjoy going to the dentist.
The First Step Is Understanding
To start off, a parent or guardian would have a hard time convincing a child to go to the dentist if they aren’t too convinced themselves. Understanding why you have to bring your child to the dentist can give you the patience and determination to motivate them to go to the dentist. So, why is it such a big deal?
Just like with most things in life, the earlier you start going to the dentist, the better. Regular dental check-ups help keep the mouth and teeth healthy. This means that if you start early, you have a better chance of having healthy gum and teeth in the long run. Check-ups at least twice a year can help prevent cavities and tooth decay. This prevents pain, trouble focusing, and other medical issues. Children are heavily affected by their teeth when it comes to how they eat, talk, or even smile, so there’s a lot riding on how healthy their mouths are.
Now that we’ve got that covered, here are our top tips to get your kids to the dentist:
1. Consistency Is Your Friend
If you get your child to be familiar with the dentist, it will be much easier for them to go for a check-up. Start taking your child to the dentist even as early as one year old. Young children are malleable, you can familiarise them enough with the dentist to not encounter such issues in the future. At the same time, don’t just go to the dentist whenever something is wrong. Although you should definitely head to the clinic if there’s a problem or an emergency, also make it a habit to do wellness check-ups.
2. Treat It As A Positive Experience
When talking about the dentist or any upcoming appointment, steer clear of negative words such as “pain”, “cry”, or “hurt”. Smiling and staying calm in the lead-up to the dental appointment can do wonders! If they see that you treat it as a positive thing, they’re more likely to believe it.
3. MAKE It A Positive Experience
You can form positive associations with going to the dentist by offering a small prize after the appointment. It’s important not to confuse this with “bribing” which can cause the child to think that going to the dentist is bad enough that they need to be bribed. Also, don’t go to the dentist with your child hungry. It’s not bad to eat before an appointment, as long as you brush your teeth afterwards!
4. Talk About The Dentist
The unknown can be frightening. Your child may be uncomfortable with going to the dentist because they don’t know what’s going to happen. Be open and honest with your child about what to expect at their appointment. This can help them prepare for what’s to come.
5. Play Pretend
If your child likes to play pretend, playing “dentist” can help them associate the dentist’s office with fun. It can also encourage them to see dentists as people who can be trusted, like you! This tip can make going to the dentist fun yet not totally unpredictable.
6. Go To A Family Dentist
A family dentist is well aware of the common child’s unease with going to the dentist’s office. This means that they’re more likely to be child-friendly in order to help their younger patients get through their appointments. A great attitude and a smile can go a long way in making a child feel more comfortable at the dentist’s office.
Not sure which children’s dentist to go to? At Hawksburn’s Dental, we promote a relaxed, friendly, and compassionate environment for all of our patients while providing only the highest quality dental care. Book an appointment with us today!
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