Taking your child to the dentist can be a trying ordeal for both the parent and child. However, making sure that you, as a parent or guardian, are calm and positive about the situation can make a world of difference. Remember, your child looks to you for guidance.
A dental clinic is somewhere your child will need to visit at least once a year. When you make it a positive experience from the beginning, you lay the foundation for positive visits in the future.
Now, let’s just start by saying that all kids are different. Some might be absolutely fine with going to the dentist, but some may not. Telling them what is going to happen is better than springing a surprise visit on them.
Depending on the child’s age, they will have some idea what the dentist is for. However, whether it’s a quick and easy checkup, or something more involved procedure, it’s essential to be as honest as possible – while still choosing your words carefully.
Children are inquisitive, so they will most likely have many questions to ask before the “big day.” These might include “why do I have to lie down?” and “why does the dentist have a mask on?” Being honest can alleviate any concerns they may have while also involving them in all parts of the process. Having a cool pair of sunglasses to wear while in the dentist’s chair can certainly help settle nerves, too!
While some children are more curious than fearful, others are a little harder to placate with promises of a treat or toy afterward. The big chair, bright lights, and strange person above them can be daunting and overwhelming. Being there by their side for that initial visit and explaining what is happening can lessen their anxiety while showing them that the dentist isn’t so scary, after all!
Parents who like to be entirely prepared for a dentist visit with their child may like to engage in pretend visits through play. Encourage your child to be the dentist and the patient in this role. Use a toothbrush and count your little one’s teeth to familiarise them with their mouth.
They may even like to pretend to brush their soft toy or doll’s teeth as “practice” for a dentist visit. By the time they visit the dental clinic for the first time, they will have a fair idea of how the process works and may feel more confident to let a dentist examine their mouth.
Fussing is Normal
Young children don’t want to be examined by a stranger, and that’s normal. They may whine, wriggle around, and cry. Remember, dentists are trained professionals who have seen plenty of children through their clinics. Don’t be afraid to let them take the lead and instruct you on what they need you to do for your child while they examine their teeth.
It’s entirely normal for children and their caregivers to be nervous before a dental checkup. However, the process is not one that needs to be dreaded or feared. Answer any questions your child might have, then allow your dentist to provide a smooth and straightforward checkup that will be memorable for all the right reasons.