You do your best to take care of your son or daughter’s precious smile with regular brushing and other healthy habits. However, getting them to their dental appointments can be a challenge. If they have a fear of the dentist, a simple checkup can be about as fun and easy as getting a tooth pulled. So what can you do to encourage your little one to feel better about professional oral health care? Here are eight practical tips from your Buckhead children’s dentist that can help them feel more relaxed and confident in the dentist’s chair.
Tip #1: Don’t Put It Off
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry reports that children should have their first dental checkup before their first birthday. The younger they are, the less nervous they’ll be and the more likely they’ll form good memories around the experience.
Tip #2: Go Easy on the Details
Your child will probably have plenty of questions about their dental appointment, especially when preparing for their first one. However, extra information about what treatments they might need could make them nervous, so hold back from explaining too many details.
Tip #3: Use Positive Phrasing
No one likes to hear words like “shots,” “hurt,” or “pain” when talking about their teeth. Instead, some dentists suggest telling your little one that the dentist will simply be looking for “sugar bugs” and “counting their teeth.”
Tip #4: Practice by Playing Pretend
Before their first appointment, you can start getting your child used to the routine by practicing it at home. Experts recommend that you count their teeth out lout with a toothbrush, show them their teeth with a mirror, or read them a picture book about dentist visits.
Tip #5: Watch Your Tone
How you talk about oral health care matters to your son or daughter. If you sound anxious, fearful, or upset about dental appointments or procedures, they’ll begin to feel that way as well.
Tip #6: Stay Calm When They Don’t
It’s completely normal for a young child to whine, wiggle, and not want to have their teeth examined by a stranger. Keep it from escalating by staying calm yourself and allow the dental professionals to guide you, since they’ve undoubtedly experienced working with tantrums before.
Tip #7: Beware of Bribery
Some dental experts do not recommend bribing your little one to behave well at the dentist’s office. They believe this could make them think being comfortable during their appointment is unusual. You should also avoid sugary rewards, since that undermines the dentist’s message of a clean, healthy smile.
Tips #8: The No-Nonsense Approach
Teach your son or daughter that visiting the dentist isn’t a choice, but a necessity to keep their teeth healthy and strong. You can explain to them that the dentist works hard to keep cavities away so their smile can stay beautiful for years to come. A no-nonsense attitude now can influence how high a priority their oral health is to them later in life.
About the Author
Your Buckhead family dentist Dr. Peter Pate makes it his goal to show young smiles that properly caring for their teeth and gums can be fun! Alongside teaching your little one about oral health, he also provides services like fluoride treatments and sealants to protect developing teeth from cavities. He’d be happy to help you show them that there’s no reason to be afraid of the dentist and care for their smile for years to come. If you’d like more guidance for helping your son or daughter overcome their dental anxiety, feel free to contact him via his website or at (404) 266-9424.