Going to the dentist is infamous around the world for being one of the least favorite appointments people have. Starting from an early age, it is uncomfortable and scary for many children and this fear tends to last and stick with them for years to come. Although not everyone is afraid of the dentist, many people are even though they have never had a bad or painful experience. The sheer fact that you know what can happen, what generally happens in their office, and how many people have bad teeth problems is enough to drive you away.
However, it is very important to visit the dentist especially for children. Later in life it is enough to go once or twice a year just to make sure everything is well. For children who are still growing, it is crucial to keep track of the teeth and mouth health and prevent certain problems from taking place. Many children are not fond of visits to the dentist and that much is certain. They can put up a strong fight until their parents give up on making the trip or have to promise them something in return. However, you can prepare your child for their trip to the dentist and save yourself the hustle easily if you follow a certain set of rules and tips. Here are a few tips on what you can do to make your child ready for their dental visit. What is more, the following is a list of things to do with your child in order to make them understand how important dental health and hygiene are.
1. Brush regularly
It is sometimes hard to get children to brush their teeth and develop the habit, but it is crucial that they follow through with the routine. Children easily pick up habits if they are enforced well and early. At 12 to 18 months old, you can start a brushing routine with non-fluoridated toothpaste. As the child grows, he or she will seamlessly fit tooth brushing into their daily routine. When the time comes for dental visits, your child is already conversant with oral care and may only need a simple check-up every once in a while. Children, like adults, should brush teeth at least twice a day for around three minutes. You can schedule tooth brushing at specific times to improve consistency or get involved and brush your teeth alongside your children. For example, most parents tell their children to do it just before bed, and then in the morning after breakfast.
2. Avoid surprises
Children are not really fond of surprises, especially the ones that they know can be unpleasant for them. A dentist’s office can be scary for a child especially the first few times around. It is unfamiliar and packed with equipment that looks intimidating and quite dangerous at times. Moreover, the noises that come out of the office may not always be welcoming since they sound like something straight from a construction site. An excellent way to prepare your child for their trip to the dentist is to take the popular tell, show and do approach.
Tell your child about the dentist and any appointments that may be coming. You can spend time explaining the importance of seeing a dentist and what happens during an appointment
Show your child what happens in a dentist’s office. There are numerous resources that can help you demonstrate this to a child. You can invest in children’s books that talk about the dentist or play kits that have toys mimicking dental equipment. Children videos and cartoons are also available
Do it by bringing your child to the dentist for a pre-visit. It is important to ensure your child is comfortable around a dentist’s office before their appointment. Most dentists can facilitate orientation visits for children to see and experience the office before they actually perform one of the routine checkups.
3. Book an appropriate appointment time
Children are often most attentive and active at specific hours of the day. Book an appointment when your child is at their happiest and attentive. Younger children do well with morning appointments while older children are fine with afternoon or even evening appointments. Moreover, make sure the appointments do not collide with important activities in their schedule. Do not make a child have to choose between going to the dentist and going to the playground, practice, or other extracurricular activities. The choice will be obvious and the reaction quite what you expect. Furthermore, avoid late appointments after a busy day of activities. When a child is tired they tend to be very uncooperative.
4. Positive reinforcement
Children are often scared of dental visits due to the horrific stories they have heard or the little discomfort they had experienced before. Here, it is important to ensure that your child does not associate the dentist’s office with negative experiences particularly those of other people. Positive reinforcement ensures children generate a desire for dental visits, or at least an understanding that it is normal and not at all scary. After each visit, you should praise and reward your child. Take them out for their favorite food or buy them some small gifts. Soon your child will start enjoying their dental visits because of the water park visit or delicious dinner date that always follows. It will all become easier from that point on, but remember to do it within reason and not spoil them too much.
5. Make your child comfortable
Although pediatric dentists are good at calming children, you can help too. Make sure your child is calm before going for their appointment. Let them bring their favorite cuddly toy to the office and dress them up comfortably. Unless contraindicated, let your child eat in advance and carry a healthy snack in case they get hungry on the way. You know that tends to happen as soon as you leave home. If a child is calm and comfortable, their experience at the dentist’s office is bound to be good. All of this is even more important the first time, or the first few times of visiting the dentist’s office. Later they will learn how much time it takes and what they can expect from it all.
Conclusion and Takeaways
There you have it, the best advice on how to prepare your child for their trip to the dentist and developing a habit of good dental hygiene. Use these tips to prepare your child for their dental visits from the earliest of occasions and you will certainly make their experience great for the rest of their life.