Whether you have a toddler about to see the dentist for the first time or a school-age child ready for another checkup, you can help the process go more smoothly with a little advanced planning. To help kids develop long-term oral care habits and ensure that they view the dentist in a good light, take steps to create positive feelings about a trip to the dentist.
Check with your kids’ dentist to see if the team has any suggestions and consider these recommendations as well:
- Prepare your kids. Let your children know that they have an appointment at the dentist office in the next few weeks, but don’t make it seem like a big deal.
- Focus on the positive. Talk with your child about the cool equipment and nice people that work in the dentist practice.
- Choose neutral language. Skip words like “shot,” “needle,” or “hurt,” which can have negative connotations.
- Offer honest answers. If your children have questions, don’t avoid them because that response can make kids feel more apprehensive. Provide a response without giving unnecessary details.
- Give your child some control. Although going to the appointment isn’t negotiable, allow your child to bring a treasured stuffed animal or wear a favorite shirt to offer additional comfort.
- Control your emotions. Even when you child displays fear or distress, remaining calm yourself will keep the situation from becoming more upsetting.
- Celebrate afterwards. Plan a fun outing, like a trip to the park or play date with a friend, as recognition of a successful visit.