Going to the dentist can feel like a daunting experience for a child. Even the friendliest dentist’s office can be an unfamiliar environment with strange sounds, and it can be disconcerting to have a stranger perform dental procedures in their mouth for the first time. Fortunately, with proper preparation and a positive attitude, parents can help their children overcome any fears they might have about going to the dentist.
Let’s discuss some good ways to help children so that they won’t fear the dentist.
It is important for parents to start dental check-ups for their children at a young age. It is recommended that you take your child to the dentist by their first birthday. Early check-ups will keep your child’s teeth healthy and they will serve to help them become familiar with the dentist and dental procedures. This can make them less fearful in the long run. Parents should take their children to the dentist every 6 months for regular check-ups, which can help them stay familiar with the dentist’s office.
Prepare Your Child
You can help your child be less afraid by mentally preparing them for their dental appointment. Explain to them in gentle terms what will happen during the appointment and why it is important. You can also show your child pictures of dental tools and explain how they work. This can help to demystify what happens at the dentist’s office and make it less intimidating.
Be sure to use positive words when talking about the dentist. Avoid frightening words like “pain,” “shot,” or “hurt” that could make them anxious. Instead, use words like “healthy,” “strong,” and “brave.” This will help your child make positive associations with the dentist.
If your child is 8 years old or younger, you can use role-playing to help them be more comfortable with dentists and what happens at the dentist’s office. Pretend to be a dentist and have your child sit in a chair while you examine their teeth, then switch roles. Many companies make dentist play kits that can make “playing dentist” more fun and realistic.
Using rewards can help your child associate the dentist with positive experiences. A reward can be as simple as a sticker, a balloon, or a small toy. Give one to your child after their dentist appointment and explain why they are being rewarded. For example, you might tell them that they were brave or that their behavior was nice and calm.
Remember to be a good role model for your child and show them that you are not afraid of the dentist. Talk about your own dental appointments in positive terms. Children often model their behavior after their parents in unfamiliar circumstances, and this will help them approach their own dental experiences positively, too.
Contact Our Experienced Pleasanton Pediatric Dentist
At the office of Dr. Mona Gokani, we make going to the dentist a positive experience for children. Dr. Gokani is a leading pediatric dentist in Pleasanton, and she has been providing families with excellent dental care for 15 years. Call us at (925) 462-1464 to make an appointment.