It’s estimated that 36% of the adult population suffers from dental anxiety, and it’s easy for parents to unwittingly pass on their fears of the dentist to their children. Being afraid of the dentist is not only an unpleasant experience; it can also affect the regularity with which your child receives checkups, negatively impacting their health. The best way to combat this is to ensure your children have stress-free dental visits from a young age.
1. Visit a Clinic Experienced in Pediatric Dentistry
Dental professionals experienced in pediatric dentistry are used to working with children and have lots of fun ways to make little patients and their guardians feel comfortable and relaxed.
2. Take the Mystery Out of the Experience
Fear of the unknown significantly increases children’s nervousness around visiting the dentist. You assuage your child’s fears by letting them know what to expect from their appointment.
Show them positive experiences of dentist visits in children’s books and TV shows, and role play dentists with them at home. Show them pictures of the dental clinic and, if possible, arrange a visit to see your surgery and meet the dentist before their first appointment.
3. Complete Paperwork in Advance
Time spent in the waiting room can build a child’s anxiety, so aim to keep your visit as short as possible by asking your surgery if you can fill out any necessary paperwork in advance. Usually, this can be done online.
4. Bring a Comfort Toy
Bringing your child’s favorite soft toy or blanket can make them feel much more at ease while visiting the dentist.
5. Choose Your Appointment Time Carefully
Any parent of young children knows the importance of timing your activities right, and visiting the dentist is no different. Bringing them to your pediatric dentist just before nap or lunchtime is not a good idea: tired, hungry children are not big fans of the dentist!
6. Sit With Your Child
Sitting in the dental chair can be intimidating for children and can exacerbate their nerves. Most pediatric dentists are happy for children to sit on their parent’s lap during their appointment. If you sit with them for one appointment, the chances are next time; they will feel comfortable sitting by themselves.
7. Normalize Dental Care
Looking after teeth should be a priority and part of your family’s daily routine. Establish good oral health practices, including brushing and flossing, from a young age. Explain to your children why caring for their oral health is important and that their dentist will help them have strong, healthy teeth and gums.
8. Visit the Dentist Regularly
Regular dental appointments -ideally twice a year- are not only vital for your child’s dental health, but they also allow children to become familiar with the experience, making it much less stressful.
A Little Planning Goes a Long Way
Creating stress-free pediatric dental appointments involves a little planning. Ensure your child knows what to expect from their visit to the dentist and makes positive associations with the experience. If you’re worried about taking your child to your clinic, talk to your dentist in advance.
At Valley Dental Care of Plainfield, we are experienced at working with children and skilled at giving them a relaxed, fun appointment. Call us today to schedule your child’s first visit.