Posted on April 29, 2021
It probably comes as no surprise that some kids are scared to go to the dentist. A visit to the dentist is a little like a visit to the doctor—kids don’t know what to expect, and they’re afraid it will hurt. But, frequent visits to the pediatric dentist are crucial for good oral health. So, next time you need to schedule an appointment, try these six tips to make your child a little more at ease.
One of the easiest ways to cure your child’s fear of the pediatric dentist is to take them while they’re young and to go regularly. Ideally, your child should see the dentist by the time they’re 12-months-old. They should go even sooner if it’s been 6 months since their first tooth came in. By visiting the dentist at an early age and going frequently, your child’s dentist won’t seem like a scary stranger to them. Your child will already know what to expect, which can ease any anxieties they might have.
Rather than scheduling a cleaning and checkup off the bat, try easing your child into their first dental visit. Many children’s dentists will schedule a meet and greet before you schedule an appointment. That way, your child can meet them, see the office, and possibly even get a demonstration of what the first visit will be like. Let them sit in the chair, play in the waiting room, or even ask the dentist to let them see a (not too scary looking) piece of dental equipment.
While it can be tempting to explain to your child exactly what the dentist will do, this can actually backfire and scare your child even more. They don’t need to know all of the details, especially when you can’t be sure of how the appointment will go. Give a brief explanation using neutral terminology, and try not to bring up the subject again until it’s time for the appointment. In younger children, it might be best not to tell them where you’re going until right before you leave or even wait until you arrive at the office to tell them.
When you talk to your child about the pediatric dentist, stay positive about the visit. Remind your child how they like the games in the waiting room or how funny the dentist is. By focusing on the good things, your child can forget about any discomfort or fear they might experience.
If your child is particularly nervous about a visit to the pediatric dentist, give mindfulness a try. Teach your child breathing techniques that they can do before and during their appointment. Let them take along a stress ball to squeeze or a fidget toy to distract them. You could even bring along noise-canceling headphones or guided meditation or story for them to listen to while they’re in the chair. Ask the dentist if you can sit nearby and hold your child’s hand, or, if your child is small enough, hold them in your lap during the checkup.
Before a dentist visit, it can be a good idea to play “dentist” at home with your child. Get a dental play-doh set or pretend teeth with dentist tools so your little one can have some fun with it. The two of you can have a pretend appointment in which you brush, floss, and check their teeth. Switch places so that they can become familiar with the process and see it as a fun activity, instead of something to be afraid of.
A visit to the dentist’s office can be scary for just about everyone—even more so for a child. To keep your child (and yourself) calm, prepare beforehand. Simply by talking and playing with your child, you can help them overcome their fear of almost anything—especially the dentist.
If you’re looking for a dentist that specializes in pediatric care, contact us at Jacaranda Smiles Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics today!
Monday 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Tuesday 9:30 AM – 6:00 PM
Wednesday 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Thursday 9:30 AM – 6:00 PM
Friday 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturday By Appointment Only