It’s normal for children to have questions about going to the dentist. Usually, doctors and clinical environments mean something’s wrong. They don’t understand that this isn’t always true, especially not for dental checkups. The dentist will assess their teeth to address any issues before they can grow into a potential problem. It’s important you take your kids for dental checkups as early as under one year. It can be very positive experience if they understand that the dentist is on their side. For younger kids, it’s vital to prepare them for a checkup at the dentist. We want it to be a positive experience.
Educating your child about what’s going to happen. Using kid-friendly language, you can help them understand why the dentist is here to help. When they understand what is going to happen, the appointment itself will go smoother. They’ll feel more confident and curious. Use these tips to make your child’s dental appointment a great one!
Understand Their Perspective
Plan to have a candid conversation about the dentist well before your child has an appointment. Ask them what they think will happen in this appointment. Before going to the clinic, “play dentist” at home. Take turns opening wide andcounting each other’s teeth. “Examine” the mouth in one of the stuffies in their room. Make it a fun game and explain how the dentist helps parents, too.
Mitigate any concerns your child may have. Assure them you’ll be right beside them. Explain the purpose of all the dentist’s tools and how they make teeth and gums healthier. Talk about how good oral health practices, and what the dentist does to prevent pain or discomfort. The more you can understand your child’s perspective and answer their questions, the more you can reassure them.
Your Positive Attitude Can Help
Children pick up on their parents’ emotions. If you model confidence when you go to the dentist, your kids will follow your example. You can help a child’s appointment go smoothly by being positive and optimistic about it. If mommy and daddy are brave, they can be, too. You could even take it a step further and show excitement for their dental appointment.
Tell them how much they’re going to learn about teeth and their mouths. If the clinic you go to is child-friendly, there might be books and games to play with in the waiting area. Some dentists even let kids pick a prize after their appointment for behaving well. Find whatever perks you can in this appointment and show your child how much fun it can be. Your positivity can make them feel safer and more trusting of the dental care team.
Choose a Family-Friendly Clinic
Many dental offices know that kids may have apprehension about the unknown. The ones that embrace child patients will make the clinic atmosphere welcoming and warm. For example, they’ll paint the walls with cheerful colours and allow upbeat music. The waiting room might have a shelf full of books for them to read, or baby and toddler toys. There could be gaming consoles for entertainment. Then, in the examination room, the cheerful colors and entertainment continues.
There may be an extra chair for mom or dad to sit that’s within eyesight of the child. You may even be encouraged to hold your child’s hand during the exam. These are all features that will make your child feel more at ease.
Ask If You Can Visit in Advance
For some children, being in a new environment can make them feel unsure. Ask your dentist if it’s okay for you to stop by the office before the checkup date. Bring your child and let them play with the toys and get used to being in the space. Encourage a positive interaction with the dentist or other team members.
When you leave this drop-by visit, ask your child about the experience. Explain that the dentist will “count their teeth,” clean them, and makes sure their mouth is healthy. It’s also where they get to have fun and play with toys. The next time you come into the clinic it’ll be for the actual checkup. Since they’ve already been there and enjoyed themselves, they’ll feel more assured.
Encourage Them to Ask Questions
Fear of the unknown doesn’t disappear with age. We all have apprehension about some things we don’t understand. Empower your child to to ask questions about the dentist. Each question is an opportunity for you to educate them on their oral health and about checkups.
Do this at home in advance of the appointment, and encourage them to ask questions when in the clinic, too. Dentists who work with children understand how important it is for them to feel comfortable in the chair. Understanding what’s going on can make your child feel at ease and safe. If they become shy and/or quiet at the checkup, remind them of the questions they wanted to ask. Or, ask for them so they can listen to the answers.
Dentists Are Like Teachers
Most kids love their teachers. They give them attention, play games with them, and sometimes offer prizes for doing a good job. Dentists are like teachers in that way; they educate kids about dental hygiene and oral health. A dentist who works with kids knows how to make the clinic feel warm and fun.
Although you’ve already taught your kids how to brush teeth and floss, allow the dentist to take part in that teaching. Their lessons can reinforce what you model and teach at home. If your child doesn’t believe they should have to brush their teeth twice a day, perhaps the dentist can explain why it’s so important. It’s all about positively reinforcing the importance of good habits.
Often, a parent’s presence is calming and reassuring. Family dentists understand that. If you being in the room isn’t enough for your little one, ask if having your child sit on your lap will interfere with the checkup. In some cases it won’t, and will make them feel more comfortable. If you stay calm, it’s more likely your child will mimic this behaviour.
Doctors Todd and Opler have been providing family dental services at Simcoe Smile Dental for years. When it comes to kids dentistry in Oshawa, you need a team that’s experienced and understands younger patients. We do! We make every effort to make all our patients feel comfortable in the office. Dental checkups should be enjoyable. To book an appointment, send us a message or call our office today: (289) 312-1482.