Taking a child to the dentist when they are frightened is no easy task.
Taking a child to the dentist when they are frightened is no easy task. It can be a stressful time for both the parent and the child. Whether your little one has a mouth full of teeth or just a few it is a good time to start thinking about booking their first dentist appointment.
Here are some easy tips to make that trip a little more enjoyable:
- The earlier the better. The WHO recommend booking your child’s first dentist apt around six months after they get their first tooth. Seem a bit early? It is recommended to get your child used to the surroundings before anything else. Sitting in the chair, putting on the glasses or even taking the mirror and having a look inside their little mouths all just get them used to the experience. Another great tip is to bring your child along when you are getting a clean and let them sit in the chair afterwards.
- Practise at home. This is a great tip for a dentist or doctor visit or any situation you may find your child anxious in. Get a toy dentist kit (or improvise) and “play” dentists with your little one. You play the dentist and have them sit in the pretend chair and visa versa. Making a game of it will normalise it in their minds and let them know what they can expect from their dentist visit.
- Never lie. In my experience, it is never a good idea to spring anything on a child. If they need a filling or just a clean let them know that in advanced. Explain what is going to happen and what the dentist will do. You can leave a few details out and just tell them the bare minimum but never lie. This way when they sit in the chair they know what to expect. If you spring a major detail of the visit on them they may lose their trust in you and the dentist and make their fear even worse.
- Reward their bravery. After their trip to the dentist always remember to reward their bravery. No matter how small. A trip to the playground or a new book? Remember we are trying to keep the sugary treats to a minimum!