At Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry, we understand how frightening a trip to the dentist can seem to young children. Along with our friendly and compassionate staff of dental care professionals, Drs. Mo and G dedicate themselves to creating a relaxing and comforting environment designed to help children feel less anxious when receiving treatment so they can continue enjoying the very best oral health possible.
Parents who find their kids less than thrilled about the idea of visiting the dentist can take comfort in knowing that they can better prepare their child for dental visits by investing a little time allaying fears at home. To help make your next visit to Must Love Kids a more relaxing experience for your little one, here are a few tips every parent can use to help their child learn to love- or at least tolerate- visiting the dentist.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends parents schedule a child’s first dental appointment shortly after his or her first tooth breaks through or by 12 months. In addition to allowing Drs. Mo and G the opportunity to access your child’s oral health from an early age and spot any potential concerns, frequent dental visits from a young age help your child become more comfortable with visiting the dentist when older.
If your child can never remember time when she didn’t see Dr. Mo, trips to the dentist become much less frightening than if a child must wait until she’s older before her first appointment. Scheduling regular appointments also provide Drs. Mo and G with the opportunity to spot any oral health issues before they develop into a more serious problem that requires an uncomfortable dental procedure to correct.
If your child’s first trip to the dentist results in him needing a cavity filled or a tooth extracted, his view of the dentist will forever be associated with discomfort and anxiety. Early visits will lower your child’s risk of needing expensive dental procedure when older, while also helping him become more comfortable with dental visits.
Anxiety over dental visits isn’t a phenomenon isolated only to young children. According to the American Dental Association, between nine and 20 percent of adults in the U.S. avoid visiting the dentist due to a dental phobia, which suggests many parents may share their child’s trepidation when it comes to dental visits.
One of the ways many parents try to help their children become more comfortable with visiting the dentist is to share their own anxiety about dental visits. However, while this may seem like a way to comfort your child and alleviate some fears, studies have shown that this behavior actually makes a child more uncomfortable, not less.
Children look to their parents as a pillar of strength and support. For a child to hear that mom or dad also shares their fear over visiting the dentist would be like telling your child that the monster under the bed is also scary to you. Good luck getting him to sleep after that.
Instead of trying to relate, children’s health experts recommend that parents focus on telling their children how strong and brave they are to help alleviate fears, rather than relating their own.
Don’t Make Promises
Another popular tactic for parents is to make promises to their child they cannot possibly keep, such as “I promise this won’t hurt” or “Your appointment is going to be real quick.” Since you have no way of knowing what Drs. Mo or G might find when examining your child’s mouth, making these types of promises can cause your child to develop a sense of mistrust about the dentist if they should become broken.
Once again, experts recommend that parents focus on reinforcing positive behavior in their kids rather than make promises they have no way of controlling the outcome over. Educate your child on the important role quality oral health plays in her development, highlighting how strong teeth allow her to eat, speak, and smile, so she has a better understanding of why dental visits are necessary. Having this kind of discussion with your child will go a lot farther helping her become more comfortable with visiting the dentist then making empty promises.
If you have any questions about how to help your child overcome dental anxiety, feel free to ask any member of the Must Love Kids staff.