Convincing your child to visit the dentist can be a challenging task for many parents. The fear of the unknown and the potential pain associated with dental procedures can cause children to resist going to the dentist. However, regular dental check-ups are essential for maintaining good oral health and preventing future dental problems. In this article, we will discuss some of the best ways to convince your child to visit the dentist scream-free.
Introducing your child to the dentist at a young age is one of the best things you can do for them that will prevent fear of dentists before it even manifests. It’s the same way how introducing your young children to animals such as cats and dogs will result in them developing higher empathy towards animals, while also developing interpersonal skills, and even becoming less likely to develop an allergy to fur and dander! The earlier you take your child to the dentist, the more comfortable they will be with the experience. Taking your child to the dentist as early as age one can help them get used to the sights, sounds, and smells of a dental office and develop positive associations with the dentist.
Use Positive Language
When talking to your child about the dentist, use positive language and avoid words that might scare them, such as “hurt” or “pain.” Instead, use words like “clean” or “healthy.” Children often pick up on their parent’s anxiety, so it’s important to stay calm and reassuring when talking about the dentist. We are very observant when we are young. We will pick up on the slightest changes in behavior towards a certain topic. Hell, even now, would you trust a person telling you that a medical procedure isn’t dangerous while visibly shaking or seeming unsure of what they are saying? Thought so. Now you understand the child’s perspective a lot better. Obviously, this does mean that you should pick your kid’s dentist very carefully. As some might come off as scary to the children and it can result in them having extremely negative associations with said individuals (and even the location itself).
Make it a Game
Children love games, and dental check-ups can be made into fun games. For example, you can let your child pick out a toothbrush or toothpaste with their favorite character on it. You can also play a counting game during the cleaning, counting how many “sugar bugs” the dentist can find and brush away. Bonus points if the dentist’s office is also painted in something that positively associates the child with the dentist, something like, let’s say, Minecraft.
Show Them the Importance
Teach your child about the importance of good oral hygiene and the consequences of not visiting the dentist. Show them pictures of cavities and gum disease and explain how regular check-ups can prevent these problems. This can be a difficult task if you cannot properly transfer the knowledge. So, using graphical imagery might be a bit frightening for them to see, but it will cement the importance of good oral hygiene in their heads.
After a successful dental visit, reward your child with a small prize or treat. This will help them associate the dentist with a positive experience and encourage them to want to go back. You can let them pick out a new toy or some food. Although don’t overdo it on the sweets.
Lead by Example
Children often look up to their parents, so it’s important to lead by example. If your child sees you taking care of your own teeth and visiting the dentist regularly, they will be more likely to want to do the same. Invite the child from time to time into the bathroom with you so you can brush your teeth together. It will also show the child how to properly do it on a regular basis. Not to mention, it also qualifies as spending time together with your child, something that everyone can appreciate.
Find the Right Dentist
Look for a dentist that has experience working with children and who has a friendly and approachable demeanor. Many dental offices offer special “kids only” days or have special amenities for children like toys and books in the waiting room.
Show Them the Technology
Many children are fascinated by technology, and modern dental offices have a lot of technology that can be used to make the experience more comfortable for children. Some dental offices have televisions in the treatment room to distract children during procedures or use special tools that make cleaning teeth less uncomfortable.
In conclusion, regular dental check-ups are essential for maintaining good oral health and preventing future dental problems. By using the above-mentioned methods, you can help your child overcome their fear of the dentist and develop positive associations with oral care. Remember that each child is unique, so it may take a combination of different strategies to find what works best for your child. But, fear not, because the positive consequences are completely worth it!