For many kids, a trip to the dentist can be extremely anxiety-producing! It’s understandable, as having a stranger poke around in your mouth is a new and often uncomfortable experience. However, since healthy teeth are an important part of overall health, you may be seeking advice on how to ease your child’s fears before a dentist appointment. We’ve seen our fair share of nervous children, and here is what we recommend:
Stay Positive and Avoid Details
One of the best ways to set your child up for success at the dentist is to assure them that the doctor will just be checking their smile and counting their teeth. Both of these are true statements that frame the appointment in a positive light. Emphasizing that the dentist will help keep their teeth clean and strong is often more effective than adding details such as potential cavities, which can be alarming for adults and children alike!
Practice Ahead of Time
For some children, it can be useful to play pretend, acting out a dentist appointment before they actually go into the office. To do this, simply take a toothbrush and count your child’s teeth. Then let your child be the dentist, practicing counting and brushing. In this way, your child will feel more informed and may be more comfortable when it’s time to make a real-life visit.
Listen to the Expert
Pediatric and family dentists are well aware of the ways in which kids may fuss or cry during an appointment. It’s very likely that they will have their own vocabulary and ways of approaching the situation that can help mitigate some of the fear. Take cues from the dentist–whether they ask you to stand back or hold your child’s hand, and trust that they are doing their best to make the experience a positive one for all.
Ultimately, one of the best ways to help your child acclimatize to visiting the dentist is to start when they are young. Doing so will make it a more normal part of their life, so there will be less fear or anxiety in the years to come. For best results, considering scheduling their first appointment around their first birthday, or at the sign of their first tooth.
At University Centre Dental Associates, we have years of practice helping parents and children become less anxious during their dental procedures. If you are looking for a dentist that will offer your child a positive experience, we are here to help.
Located in Greenbelt, MD, our office is just a short drive from Washington, DC, Bowie, MD, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Anne Arundel County. If you have questions about how we can help your child, do not hesitate to contact us.