Maintaining your dental hygiene is necessary to promote excellent oral hygiene and ensure your teeth remain healthy. And, while the visit to the dentist is scary for adults, you can imagine how children think of this entire experience. Therefore, it’s your responsibility as a parent to try and ease your kid’s dental anxiety, especially during the first visit to the dentist. This is essential since you’ll be laying the needed groundwork to ensure your child feels relaxed for the subsequent visits to the dentist.
But, what can you do to ensure your kid doesn’t experience dental phobia? Here are vital tips to implement when going to the dentist for your kid to feel relaxed and comfortable:
- Start While They’re Young
The sooner you start taking your child to the dentist, such as grovecitydentalofblackfoot.com, the easier it will be for you to ease their anxiety about their appointment. This means that you should ideally schedule the first visit to the dentist when your child is three years old. By starting dental checkups at this early age, your child gets to familiarize themselves early on with the entire experience. As a result, they’ll get used to the regular dental checkups as they grow older.
- Go For A Pediatric Dentist
If your kid is incredibly nervous and fearful about going to the dentist, then it’s best if you opt for a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists have usually gone through further specialized training after dental school to learn how to handle babies, kids, teenagers, plus persons with special needs. These professionals can ease the child’s tension by creating a kid-friendly environment. They also go a step further and provide kids with books or games while in the waiting room to help them feel more relaxed.
- Keep It Simple
Your child will inevitably be stressed out about the upcoming visit to the dentist. The best way to ease their tension is talking to them and answering any question they might have about their dental appointment. Make sure to give an honest reply or risk losing your child’s trust once you get to the dentist, which only increases their anxiety.
Likewise, you shouldn’t give false hopes or vague replies, such as, “Everything will be fine.” Instead, explain the entire process and without going into too much detail, such as the exact tools used during the procedure. You should also inform your child you’ll be with them through the entire process to ease their worry.
- Plan Routine Visits To The Dentist
A visit to the dentist in the kid’s mind means getting an injection or having a tooth removed. However, this isn’t always the case since a dental appointment can also involve a basic cleaning and examination of your child’s dental hygiene. For the kid to know this, you need to schedule them for routine dental visits. Over time, they’ll learn that not every visit leads to an injection or tooth removal. This helps ease their tension for subsequent future visits.
- Explain The Importance Of Dental Hygiene
Another way of easing your child’s tension of going to the dentist is by informing the benefits of good oral health. This means explaining in detail the need to ensure their gums and teeth are clean, plus why a dental appointment is part of this healthy lifestyle. You should also live up to what you’re telling your child by looking after your teeth and gums. This means brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing every day, and scheduling regular dental appointments.
By doing this, your kid will try and copy your attitudes and behaviors, thereby making them less anxious about dental visits.
Make The Dental Visit A Family Affair
When at the dentist, your mere presence or that of another family member can help your child relax. This is important since it shows your kid that they aren’t alone, thereby easing their anxiety. You should also consider taking your child to the dentist together with their older siblings. Doing this allows them to watch as their brother or sister is being attended to by the dentist. And, because younger kids like copying everything their older siblings do, they’ll be a lot more confident when it’s their turn.
- Play Make-Believe With Your Child
Kids are very imaginative, and after knowing they’re going to the dentist, especially if it’s their first visit, they start imagining things. Because of this, they become nervous and anxious, even before getting to the dentist’s office. The best way to ease your kid’s worries in such situations is by playing make-believe with them on how the entire dentist visit will go.
You can do this using a toothbrush and having your child count their teeth. A mirror would also be useful to show how the dentist might be inspecting their teeth. But, as you do this, never make any drilling sounds to avoid scaring your child. After that, give your child the toothbrush to clean their doll’s teeth. Doing this familiarizes your kid with the dental routine, which reduces their anxiety.
- Be Ready For Some Fussing
The visit to the dental office is scary for the child, so you need to be psychologically prepared for some wiggling as they resist examination by a stranger. However, this is normal behavior shown by every child, so you need to remain calm. Dentists and their staff have experience in handling similar cases of outbursts from kids. You might also be required to help calm your kid down by holding onto your kid’s hands to give them the needed comfort. This is crucial since you don’t want to worsen your kid’s dental anxiety, which means they’ll be worse during future visits.
- Take Your Child For A Pretend Visit
Dentists understand the tension kids go through before a dental appointment and are more than willing to ease their fears by allowing a pre-appointment visit. And, because most of your child’s anxiety comes from their imagination, a visit to the dentist’s office will help ease their tension. During this pretend visit, your child gets to familiarize themselves with the surroundings, meet the staff, and listen to teeth cleaning procedures.
This visit also allows the dentist to interact with your child. With the knowledge and experience, a pediatric dentist will be able to find a way of easing your child’s fears in preparation for the appointment.
- Be Positive
The visit to the dentist is one that’s dreaded even by adults. So, if you’ve had a bad experience in the past, it’s important not to pass on your fears about your experience to your child. You should also note your behavior around your dentist since kids are very perceptive and pick up even on little details. Showing a positive attitude towards your dentist will, in turn, make your kid more comfortable about this whole experience.
- Read Your Child Dental Storybooks During Story Time
Another excellent way of easing your child’s worries about going to the dentist is reading them dental storybooks. There are numerous options available on the market today. Such books usually talk about how the main character had a wonderful experience at the dentist’s office. This will not only help your child understand what will happen during the dental appointment, but also ease their worries about the entire experience.
- Distract Your Child If Necessary
If your child’s anxiety is very high, then you’re left with no choice but to use distractions to try and ease their nervousness. You can do this using props and toys to keep their mind busy. The phone is also a handy tool to distract your child, and you can choose to show them their favorite movie or have them listen to music they love.
Some of dentist offices play music or have in-chair movies that help the child relax during their treatment or checkup. And, with the kid distracted, they’ll show less anxiety before, during, and after the dental procedure.
- Make An Advance Appointment With Your Pediatric Dentist
Although pediatric dentists are often very kind and friendly, it’s always nice to notify them in advance about your scheduled visit. This is especially crucial if your kid gets very anxious every time during a dental appointment. Doing this gives the dentist adequate time to prepare for your child. This allows them to know what they need to do to get your child to relax and be comfortable during the entire appointment.
- Watch The Words You Use
While explaining to your child what will be done during the dentist visit is advisable, make sure to avoid using certain words that might spark fear in them. Examples of such terms include ‘shot,’ ‘hurt,’ ‘pain,’ and ‘scary,’ all of which paint the dentist appointment to be one traumatizing experience. This results in your kid becoming a lot more nervous about the scheduled appointment.
Instead, you should use neutral language that doesn’t scare your child. If you have no idea how to go about doing this, you should leave this task to the dental staff. They know the right words to use when explaining the dental procedures without frightening your child.
- Use Relaxation Techniques
Children, too, can perform a few relaxation techniques to help them ease their anxiety. And, if you have older kids, relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and slow inhalation, go a long way in reducing their dental phobia. Your child will get to do these techniques whenever they feel tensed before their dental procedure.
Muscle relaxation techniques are also beneficial in easing your child’s anxiety during the dental appointment. This involves your child systematically tensing and relaxing all the muscle groups in their body as they rest on the dentist chair.
- Never Keep Dentist Appointments A Secret
Kids usually want a predictable life. Therefore, you should always inform them of an upcoming visit to the dentist. Doing this gives them time to start mentally preparing themselves for the dental appointment. During this period, you should be open to answering any question your child asks to help ease their worries. And, while giving your response, try to give straightforward responses and not go into detail on what will be done during the procedure.
- Don’t Bribe Your Child.
Most parents resort to bribing their children with gifts during times of desperation. However, you shouldn’t do this since this only increases your child’s anxiety. The reason for this is that your child will start assuming that the dentist’s visit is so bad that you’re willing to offer them a gift for enduring the procedure. In addition, promising your child treats after going to the dentist goes against what they’re advised at the dentist’s office to ensure cavity-free, clean, and healthy teeth.
Rather than bribing your child, the best thing to do would be to congratulate them for their excellent behavior before and during the dentist appointment. After that, you can give them an appropriate gift, such as a small toy or sticker that encourages them to remain strong even during future visits.
- Always Be Patient And Understanding
A dental appointment is scary, and this causes most kids lots of stress. Therefore, you need to be very patient and understanding throughout your entire appointment at the dentist’s office. When your kid starts crying or throwing tantrums, don’t lose your temper or yell at them. Instead, you need to support your child, and the best way to do this would be by holding their hands during their examination or treatment.
If you can’t handle your kid’s emotions, the best thing to do would be to leave your child with the pediatric dentist. They have the training and experience needed to know how to handle kids, so you can trust them.
Many kids fear the visit to the dentist despite oral health being essential for their long-term wellbeing. Therefore, it’s your responsibility as a parent to think of ways to ease your child’s fear during the visit to the dentist. If you don’t know where to start, this detailed guide has highlighted some useful tips on how you can reduce your kid’s anxiety. By implementing these tips, you’ll be able to ensure your child observes proper dental hygiene even later in life.