Taking your child to the dentist can be stressful, not least because it probably isn’t your most favourite place either. However, it’s important for your children to visit the dentist every 6 months from around the time their first milk tooth appears.
Starting your child’s visits to the dentist early can play a huge part in reducing any anxiety they might have. It can also really help your child understand that their dentist is their friend – and not a foe!
As well as always being positive about your trips to the dentist and making the visit fun, these are our top 5 tips when it comes to making your child’s visit to the dentist as stress free as possible.
1. Tell Them What to Expect
Not knowing what to expect is most likely where part of your child’s nervousness about visiting the dentist stems from. Whilst their very first visits will be little more than the dentist just asking them to open their mouth and having a very quick look inside, you can prepare them for visits by explaining everything that will happen.
From sitting in the waiting room to climbing into the dentist’s chair, let them know what the routine will be. Don’t forget the fun things like the funny coloured mouthwash and the sticker at the end!
2. Be Open and Honest
It’s tempting to hide the fact that dentists will sometimes have to treat cavities and use instruments that might look (and sound) scary to a small child. Especially if your child needs some dental work, it’s best to be honest about what the dentist might have to do.
Just offer your child plenty of reassurance and understanding. Telling them about positive experiences you’ve had at the dentist can really help too, especially if they confirm the fact that dental treatment isn’t bad.
3. Make the Dentist a Super Hero
Just like the doctor makes them better when they’re poorly, let them know that the dentist is a super hero when it comes to looking after teeth. For your child’s teeth to remain healthy for a lifetime, it’s really important to look after them.
Tell them that the dentist’s main job is to teach them how to keep their teeth big and strong, and that their job is to keep up the good work in-between visits.
4. Plan a Reward
We all remember being so proud when we got a sticker from the dentist when we were little. Planning a reward after visiting the dentist will make the trip much more fun and give them something nice to look forward to.
Plan a trip to the park afterwards, watch their favourite film together or let them pick a small toy. But most of all, give them lots of praise and use encouraging language about their next exciting trip to the dentist.
5. Be There For Them
Whilst it’s not always a great idea to take them with you to your own dentist appointments (especially if you’re nervous yourself), being there for them during their appointments will make them feel much more secure.
Make sure the dentist will let you stay with them for the duration of their examination and give your child plenty of reassurance of what a good job they’re doing!