Children going to dental appointments tend to feel afraid, thinking that dentists are scary and that they’d undergo a painful procedure. Thus, a visit to the dentist has become a problem for many parents around the globe as it hinders them from getting the dental care their children deserve.
Dental checkups are essential for young children because they help prevent tooth decay or other oral-health-related problems. Not to mention, untreated teeth and gum problems could be painful for children and grow into a larger problem that would be harder to solve.
As parents, it is your responsibility to ensure that your child is healthy overall, especially when it comes to commonly neglected healthcare such as oral health. In this sense, provided below are a few tips on how you could emotionally prepare your young ones to visit their dental appointments and make it a not-so-scary experience for them.
Allow Them To Bring Their Comfort Toys or Items
Does your child have a special toy that makes him feel better whenever it’s around? Or does he have a blankie that he dearly loves? If your child requests to bring them during their dental appointment, allow them to bring those along. Having something dear to them could help build courage and make them feel confident during their checkup.
These items could help them stay calm and not worry, as dental clinics typically have toys, especially ones catering to dental checkups for children. Also, many pediatric dentists nowadays, especially in developed countries like the US, Canada, and Australia, receive special training on handling patients to be qualified to work with children and assess their dental needs.
In Australia, one out of ten children experiences high dental anxiety. Fortunately, there are tons of reliable children’s dentist in Brisbane, Sydney, and other cities in the country who know how to handle children during dental appointments. Children’s clinics also provide a comfortable and friendly atmosphere to help children feel safe and at ease.
Explain To Your Child What Will Happen
No one wants to be surprised into having a sudden checkup, even some adults! So, don’t bring your children to the dentist without having a proper conversation. Try to have a positive talk with them. Also, children may fear because they don’t know what will happen once they visit their dentists, or they have seen someone have a bad experience with it and think it will happen to them too.
In cases like this, communication with your child is very important because, as their caretaker, you can tell them what will happen and communicate it in a fun and understandable manner. The kind that your child would feel assured that it will be okay no matter what. Tell them that the dentists are the ones who could help them feel better, not hurt them.
Roleplay Dentists During Their Playtime
Roleplaying is one of the best ways to let your children understand something. It allows them to imagine and keeps their brain thinking and more curious. Thus, incorporate the role of a dentist during your playtimes so you can introduce what a dentist does and how they can help patients.
You may make a few gestures, like the proper way of brushing your teeth, checking your mouth, gargling water, and more. You can try doing it and vice versa with your kid; for instance, you be the dentist first, then your child will be the patient. But, make sure that whatever gestures and actions you show your child, it is something that is child-friendly and avoids showing emotions that you are hurt, as it could make them think that dental visits are harmful.
Reward systems effectively convince your child to go to the dentist. Have a little fun negotiating with them, and keep your word to reward them if they could be well-behaved during the appointment. Take note of the things that your child loves or enjoys. If your child enjoys watching movies in cinemas, you could use it as a way to motivate him to go to the dentist as you will watch a movie afterward or after they recover.
Also, many children love ice cream. Ice cream is a great reward to be given as it could help them feel better if they are experiencing a toothache. Rewards don’t need to be extravagant; it just needs to be true to what you say. Also, your child could build better trust with you if you fulfill your promises to them.
Make Use Of Dentist-Friendly Resources
Books are one of the main sources of information, and for kids, it’s enjoyable to have interactive and colorful books. Thus, have some dentist-friendly and child-friendly books that your children can explore. Through the photos in each book and words, they could have a more positive interpretation of going to their dental checkups.
If your child dislikes reading books, try looking for child-friendly videos about dentists. You can utilize YouTube in doing this, as there are tons of videos online that could capture your child’s attention no matter what topic it is, especially ones focused on dental visits.
Choosing the dentist for your children also plays a huge role in whether or not they will love the experience they will have. It is inevitable that in the first few sessions, your child could still be afraid of attending their dental appointments. But with consistency and trying the tips above, you can see improvements in how your child will behave and react when hearing the words “dental checkups.”