Going to the dentist is a new and sometimes scary experience for a child. However, to ensure they learn the good dental hygiene habits they’ll need for life, it’s crucial to get them accustomed to the experience. If you’re a parent who wants to make this a positive experience in your young child’s life, read on.
Ease Their Anxieties
Dentists have ways of making children more comfortable when they’re sitting in the dental chair. In order to familiarize your child with the office, take them in early before their appointment. Have them meet their dentist so they can see that they’re dealing with a nice person rather than some scary stranger behind a mask.
Before their first visit, you should explain to your child what to expect. They’ll feel more confident and comfortable if they have some prior knowledge instead of going in blind. If they are particularly young, you might need to explain things in simpler terms, as they may not understand dental terminology.
Teach Them the Importance of Dental Health
Kids may not be able to grasp the importance of brushing every day, so create a system that speaks to them. Use a toothpaste flavor they love, or set up a calendar or chart and reward them with a sticker every time they brush. Before long, the habit will be so ingrained that they’ll take care of their smiles without you telling them to. There’s no need to go into detail about awful and frightening dental diseases to scare them into flossing.
You can also model good behavior and make sure your kids see you brushing and flossing regularly. Have them accompany you to your dental checkups as well so that they can learn there is nothing to be afraid of. However, if you want to ensure that fears don’t take root to begin with, you’ll need to start their dental appointments while they’re young. The American Dental Association recommends bringing children in for their first visit at one year of age. This is approximately the time when a child’s first tooth appears.
Reward Good Behavior
Some children may be a little apprehensive about going to the dentist. It can be a scary experience for some children, especially if it’s their first time going. A good way to help alleviate these fears and prepare your child to go to the dentist is by rewarding their good behavior. After explaining to them what will happen, come up with a reward for them to have if they behave well and don’t throw any kind of fit.
For example, you could make a family day out of your trip to the dentist and incentivize your child with a nonfood reward afterward. Going out for ice cream may be counterproductive, so opt for a fun activity instead. For example, drive to your nearest science museum, theme park, or playground for a day of fun.
If you want your child to practice great oral hygiene into adulthood, make visiting the dentist a fun experience by following some of these tips to ease their fears and anxieties. You’ll be rewarded every time you see them smile.
Here’s another article you might like: How a Child’s Smile is Tied to Their Overall Confidence