For many children, a dentist visit is a new and unfamiliar experience. November Sunflower’s littlest Sunflower used to cry and carry-on at every dentist appointment. It took a few people to hold him so the dentist could get through the exam. Good times. If this happens to you, we’re here to help!
4 ways to have a more enjoyable dentist visit with your children
Try these tips to help your kids feel comfortable the first time they need a dental checkup.
Take Your Kids with You to Set the Appointment
Instead of making an appointment over the phone, bring your children with you to the dentist’s office. This will give them a chance to meet the staff and get familiar with the office environment. Involve them in the conversation with the receptionist when setting the appointment.
You may want to call ahead to make sure that the office has time to give your kid a tour. If possible, see if the dentist has a chance to meet your child and shake their hand. Kids will be less scared if they know the person who will be working with them later on.
Consider going for a fun family activity after you set the appointment so that your child associates the dentist with positive experiences. This mock visit will set their expectations towards a fun, healthy, and normal trip to the dentist.
Have a Positive Attitude about the Dentist
Children tend to mimic the way you think and feel about a situation, especially if they have never experienced it before. If you are stressed about going to dental services, they will notice and act accordingly.
The key is to treat trips to the dentist as a normal and agreeable part of life. Don’t fake too much positivity, as this is seldom convincing. At the same time, refrain from making verbal complaints or referring to the trip as stressful. Your kid will be looking to you for emotional support and as a model for behavior.
If you have to attend your own dentist’s appointment, discuss this with your child. Have a good attitude about it and explain why you need to go. If you treat your appointment as normal, your kid will have an easier time facing theirs.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Make sure your children know about good oral hygiene. Teach them how to brush their teeth and help them understand why dental health is important. You may want to purchase a few books or toys that explain dental services in a kid-friendly way. When the dentist asks them if they brush their teeth, they’ll be able to proudly answer in the affirmative.
A fun toothbrush is a great way to help kids get excited about taking care of their teeth. Find one in their favorite color or with a favorite cartoon character on it. Make sure your child is using a kid-sized toothbrush and not an adult-sized one.
Reward Good Behavior
After your child has made it through their dental visit, reward them for acting so maturely. Even if they were a little fidgety, let them know you’re proud they let the dentist finish his work.
Keep the after-appointment reward simple:
- healthy treat
- inexpensive new toy
As long as you maintain a calm and positive attitude, your child will likely be fine with a visit to the dentist. Listen to their concerns and help them through this difficult but necessary experience.
Author bio: Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her three-year-old husky, Snowball.