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You know the importance of healthy teeth and proper oral hygiene habits, but it is difficult to get your children to understand this, especially if they are timid. If you are like many parents, every time your child is faced with a new and unfamiliar situation, he or she refuses to cooperate and ends up in tears.
UPDATED 12 – 02 – 18
How can you help your children start off on a healthy track if they are too scared to go to the dentist?Whether you are preparing children for their first dental visit or preparing them to lose a tooth, it is important to be as positive as you can through the process and expect them to be a little nervous about the changes going on inside their mouth. If you are able to make this a comfortable transition for your children, they are more likely to be able to keep up their dental hygiene and have good dental health beginning early on in life.
If you are able to make this a comfortable transition for your children, they are more likely to be able to keep up their dental hygiene and have good dental health beginning early on in life.
Most dentists understand that a lot of children are scared and overwhelmed during their first visit to the dentist. Don’t feel like you are a burden to the dental office if you have a bit of a struggle during your first few visits. Here are 6 ways to help your child understand the dental process so they can feel safe and comfortable while in the dentist’s chair.
1. Start with a Meet and Greet with the Dentist
To begin helping your children understand the dental process, go for a pre-appointment meet and greet with the dentist. This can be a trial run for the real thing.
Pediatric dentists at Kinder Smiles will be excited to have a staff member welcome your family and give you a tour of the office. This will help your children feel comfortable and become more familiar with the setting.
During this meet and greet, let your dentist know if your children are nervous about their upcoming appointment. This will help the dentist prepare for an anxious or fussy patient. It is important to remember that pediatric dentists are used to working with children and a little anxiety won’t be anything new to them. Your dentist will try their best to give your family a happy experience.
2. Be Conscious of Your Word Choice
When preparing your children for the dental process make sure to steer clear from using words that may cause a reaction. For example, words like ‘hurt’, shot’, and ‘scary’ are best to be avoided, even if you are telling your children that they will not be experiencing these things.
Instead, use positive language that encourages reassurance. Neutral language will soothe your children rather than making them feel anxious or frightened.
3. Prepare for Tooth Loss
Children usually lose their first tooth between the ages 5 of and 7. While children may hear stories about the Tooth Fairy from friends or in school, you must still take the necessary steps to prepare your children to lose their first tooth so they know what to expect.
Otherwise, it can cause anxiety for children to all of a sudden have a gap in their smile. Make sure that you are able to explain the process of losing a tooth in a positive light, explaining how the tooth will begin to wiggle when it is getting ready to fall out.
4. Keep It Simple
Before going into see a dentist, explain to your children what will be happening. Assure them that you will be by their side the whole time. That they will sit in a comfortable chair and open up their mouth, and that a dentist will make sure their teeth are clean and healthy.
It is important to avoid over-explaining the process. Because it may overwhelm children when they are presented with too many details. You don’t have to talk about the exact tools that will be used or everything that will happen because those details will make the appointment seem even more intimidating. Try to keep it as simple as possible so it doesn’t seem like a major ordeal.
5. Teach Your Children
Your children have to understand why it is so important that they have healthy teeth. Teach your children that visiting a dentist will allow them to continue to comfortably eat, drink, and smile. Once your children understand why they need healthy teeth, he or she will be more likely to want to visit a dentist.
Start to practice brushing teeth as a family as soon as your baby begins to develop teeth. When it comes time to go to the dentist, take some time at home to role play and pretend to be sitting in the dentist’s chair.
You can even read books to your children about going to the dentist. Once your children understand how important it is to see a dentist on a regular basis, they will be more willing to get into the dentist chair and cooperate for their appointment. The idea here is to make them as familiar as possible with the process. Then they feel like they already know what is going on when they walk into the office.
6. Reward Children for Losing Teeth
Losing a tooth can be exciting for children. It is one of the big signs that they are growing up. Encourage your children to lightly wiggle a loose tooth to give it a helping hand. It will fall out on its own. Also, promote a positive experience with rewards and praise.
Whether you use the Tooth Fairy as a reward or you choose to go a different route. Your children will become excited to lose their teeth. And they will not be as scared the next time that a tooth is loose. Instead, they will look forward to receiving more praise and a reward for being so brave throughout the process.
If you have children who are approaching the age of needing a dental appointment, contact Kinder Smiles at 201-262-0211. Or, visit their website to request an appointment.
KinderSmiles Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics
400 Kinderkamack Rd.
Oradell, NJ 07649
6 Ways to Help [Your Child] Understand the Dental Process
Dr Engel holds a speciality license in pediatric dentistry from New Jersey and New York. He also has attained sedation certification, which allows for in-office oral sedation options, and he’s on staff at Hackensack University Medical Center. As an attending pediatric dentist at HUMC, Dr Engel retains operating room privileges, allowing for an array of treatment modalities and anaesthesia options.