It is normal for anyone to feel a little nervous going in for a dental appointment, but 19.5% of children are completely afraid of going to the dentist! It is important to show your kids that going to the dentist should be a routine in their lives, and there is nothing to fear.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure their dental visits are smooth for them, yourself, and the dentist!
- Get them started early
It is recommended for your child to visit the dentist as early as their first tooth emerges. This will help them develop a relationship with their dentist, and also ensure the dentist's office becomes a familiar and comfortable place they can look forward to.
- Don't say too much
Sometimes, you could unintentionally say things to add to the fear your child might be experiencing. Worse, you could create fear where there is none. Saying "it won't hurt a bit!" could put the possibility of pain your child's mind.
- Teach them to relax
Some basic breathing exercises (deep inhalation, slow exhalation) can help a nervous child calm down.
- Distractions can help
Speak to your dentist beforehand to ask if you can bring in a device for your child to listen to their favourite song, or watch their favourite TV show. Most dental offices also provide toys and screens for kids to focus on.
- Let the dental staff take charge
Once you get to the appointment, remember, a pediatric dental team knows what they're doing. Let your child be comfortable around them. While it can be helpful for you to be present to comfort your child, leave the talking up to the dentist.
- Positive Reinforcement
Make sure to reward your child after a good visit! It is best to give them stickers or encouraging words instead of sugary treats (which can send the opposite message of the good oral hygiene the dentist promotes).