Dental anxiety can be a real thing. Approximately ten to twenty percent of United States adults have it. This is especially true for children. This is why it is so important for parents to promote positive and stress-free dental visits for their kids. Here are nine tips to ease children’s fears of the dentist. These following tips will help ease your child’s worries and pave the way to a lifetime of good oral hygiene.
1 – Start Young. Children should see a dentist by the time their first tooth appears and no later than their first birthday. Taking them when they’re still babies is not only beneficial to their dental health, but it familiarizes them with the dental office environment. Another separate benefit is that when kids start this early, it helps build trust with the dentist.
2 – Visit a Pediatric Patients Dentist. Pediatric dentists have both specialty training as well as offices that are generally outfitted to appeal to kids, complete with video games, TVs, kid-friendly fluorides and often, stickers or small toys given after the visit.
3 – Prepare Them. Play “dentist” at home so they better understand what will happen when they get there. All you need to pull this off, is a toothbrush, a chair, and a mirror. Let kids role-play as they examine your teeth and pretend to clean them and vice versa. You can also read dental storybooks, which outline more of what they can expect.
4 – Use Thoughtful Language. Communicate about their expectations. Avoid words like cavities, needles or fillings. Pediatric dentists have a special vocabulary for explaining procedures, so leave it to them to answer the more complex questions. You also want to avoid using terms that promise it is all going to be OK. Terms like, “Don’t worry, the dentist won’t hurt you,” implies that the visit could be painful.
5 – Inform Dentist Office About Child’s Anxieties. Communicating with your dentist prior to your child’s visit puts the office staff on alert, making things smoother for all of you. It is their job to make things easier. Take advantage of this.
6 – Keep Calm. Dentists have seen their fair share of tantrums. Don’t worry if your child lashes out or whines once in the chair. Take cues from the office staff, allowing them to guide you on how to make your child comfortable. Whether it’s holding their hand, letting them squeeze their favorite stuffed animal or reminding them of the goodies that await them when they are done with the appointment.
7 – Set an Example. Remember, you are your child’s first teacher and what you say matters. If you complain before and after your own dental appointments, kids get the message that going to the dentist is something scary and will want to avoid.
8 – Motivate and Reward. Small rewards for good behavior help motivate kids to be cooperative. These rewards, whether they are extra play time or a little toy from the store, should be something you discuss beforehand to ensure your child sits still and listens to the dentist. Whatever you do, obviously, don’t bribe with candy or sweets as that defeats the purpose of the dental visit.
9 – Stress the Importance of Oral Care. Make oral hygiene a fun family activity. Let kids select their own toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Make sure that they see you brushing, flossing, etc. The more kids get the idea that taking care of their mouths is a positive, healthy habit, the more excited they’ll be to continue taking care of their teeth.
These tips actually seem like no brainers, but for some maybe they are not. This is why we made the list.
This is why you can feel good about having your kids see Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg. He cares for his patients unlike any other dentist in the South Florida, primarily the Plantation area. Whether you are getting extensive work done like a root canal, Invisalign, crowns, or full dentures, or lighter work such as whitening, fillings, or preventative oral care, this is your dentist’s office.
Dr. Rosenberg is a Miami, Florida native who received his undergrad degree from Emory University and got his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Georgetown University Dental School. He has been in private practice for over 20 years. Dr. Rosenberg is President-Elect of the Broward County Dental Association. He is Vice President of the Broward Dental Research Clinic where has been on the board of directors for five years. He is a member of the Intracoastal Study Club. Professional memberships include the American Dental Association, the Florida Dental Association, the Atlantic Coast District Dental Association, and the Broward County Dental Association.