Many children suffer from dental anxiety, which can eventually lead to issues such as tooth decay if left unaddressed. Regular check-ups are important for maintaining a clean bill of oral health over a lifetime. Helping kids to tackle their fear sooner rather than later is a sure-fire way to develop the healthy habits they need to maintain perfect teeth for a lifetime. We’ve got five tips on making trips to the dentist a positive experience for your child.
1 – Explain what will happen at the appointment
A few days before the appointment, talking in detail about what to expect from the experience can go a long way to dealing with a fear of the unknown. Children have big imaginations, so they can build up an exaggerated picture of the dentist in their head very easily. Take the time to explain each stage of the appointment, from what will be in the room, to what tools the dentist might use, and what it will feel like. Avoid stories of any negative dental experiences you may have had in the past, and keep your voice upbeat and gentle.
2 – Inform your dentist about how your child feels
If you already know your child has a tendency to be anxious of the dentist, make your dental practice aware of this fact when you make your appointment. Here at Smile Pad, we are experienced in helping nervous patients through their experience with us – especially kids! Our dentists will talk your child through every step of the appointment before they get into the chair, and throughout their time there. Most importantly, they’ll be extra gentle when working on your child’s teeth.
3 – Make it fun
Creating a sense of fun around going to the dentist can be great for preventing kids developing anxiety, and helping them overcome it if they already struggle. There are loads of ways you can do this. Read children’s books and watch animated videos with your little one about visiting the dentist. If they see their favourite character getting into the chair with a smile on their face, they will probably start to see it as something fun. Role-play games where your child pretends to be the dentist examining a soft toy, or playing dentists with family or friends can add a touch of familiarity to their experience, so that when the time comes, they are more likely to know what to expect and have peace of mind.
4 – Bring along a favourite toy
Your child’s favourite toy can be a great source of comfort to them. Allow them to bring it with them to their dental appointment, and hold it while they are in the chair. Having something in their hands might help them to stay in the present moment, and focus on the feeling of the toy as a distraction from how they feel.
5 – Use simple relaxation techniques
Simple mindfulness exercises can help anyone to stay in the moment, and ease the mind. If your child gets nervous at the thought of visiting the dentist, teach them a simple breathing technique – breathe in slowly while counting to four, and out again, while counting to four. Your child may want to pretend they are blowing up a big balloon, or blowing out candles on a birthday cake. The key is to get their focus off their anxious thoughts, and onto their breathing. Encourage them to do this during the check-up.
Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be scary! To book an appointment for your child, please fill out this form. Our dentists go out of their way to ensure that nervous patients receive the best experience possible.