It’s that time of the year again – back to school! And with this familiar feeling comes the time for your child’s dental check-ups. Unfortunately, trips to the dentist do not always receive the highest reverence. For some, dentist visits can be a very stressful time, not only for your child, but for parents as well, obviously not wanting to see their child in distress. However, this sense of anxiety can be dramatically decreased and maybe even completely avoided. By using these simple steps, your child may have a near care-free dental visit.
It is important to be deliberate in the way you speak to your child pertaining to the dental visit. Remember to be honest and straightforward, but also avoid using too many details, as well as words like “painful”, “hurt”, and “shot”. Using too many details can cause your child to ask questions and possibly overthink the procedure. It is best to let the dental professional answer questions and explain the semantics of the procedure. As well, it may be advantageous to inform the dentist of your child’s fears. That being said, make sure you listen to your child and understand what, specifically, they are afraid of (obstructed breathing, powerlessness, pain, etc.). In doing so, the dentist will have a much better understanding of how to handle the appointment.
After all the preparation, your job is not over. If your child is still dealing with stress on the day of the visit, make sure to speak to them in a calm and relaxing voice. If you seem stressed and frantic, they will most likely feel the same.
As well, bringing in a toy is a good strategy to divert their attention and take their mind off of the procedure. Some dentists even allow children to bring their toys into the treatment rooms, so you might want to call the dentist ahead of time to make sure.
Here are things to remember NOT to do when dealing with your child’s dental anxiety. For one, don’t be secretive about appointments. Along with the possibility of your child losing trust, it may also cause them to wonder, “What can be so bad about the dentist that it’s being kept a secret?”
Something else to remember is to not promise a reward. Promising a reward for your child may seem like a good idea, but it could add more stress to your child, making them think that going to the dentist is a difficult (and reward-worthy) task.
Going to the dentist can be a stressful time for a child and their parent. However, it does not have to be. If these tips and tricks are followed correctly, your child’s dental anxiety can be substantially reduced, thus making a stress-free day for you.