For a small child, going to the dentist can be a daunting and even a scary experience. As with any fear that begins at an early age, it can manifest into a life-long obstacle if not dealt with effectively. There are many ways to make children feel more comfortable with trips to the dentist – much of them through positive reinforcement. Here are just a few suggestions.
The sooner you begin brushing your baby’s gums (and teeth if they have them), the less of a shock it will be when they go to the dentist for the first time. Fear of the unknown can be greatly minimised by doing more with children at home first.
Prepare them in a positive way
There are lots of fun books and online learning tools that help to explain the role of a dentist and the importance of looking after your teeth and gums. Remember what it was like to be that age – think of ways to paint dentists in a positive light and encourage children to ask questions.
It is especially important that you don’t pass on your own fears and anxieties, as children are incredibly receptive. Try to stay positive and make the experience more of a fun adventure. For example, letting them choose their own toothbrush and rewarding them after their trip to the dentist.
If possible, see a paediatric dentist
Like any other healthcare professional, paediatric dentists have undergone extra training specific to working with children. They have special equipment and their offices and surgeries are often painted in bright colours and have fun pictures. If you can’t see a paediatric dentist then ask to speak to whomever your child goes to and explain that they need a little reassurance.
Offer comfort and reassurance
Let your child take their favourite teddy or toy with them to the dentist, and ask if you can stay with them during their appointment. If you are unable to take them, ask another adult whom your child knows and trusts, to go with them.