How to Help Your Child Become a Fearless Dental Patient
By using these simple guidelines, your child will learn that modern dentistry can truly be a pleasant experience.
The end result will be improved dental health, minimal future treatment needs, saving money and forming a positive attitude towards preventive health care.
- Never use the dental visit as a threat. This includes; “If you don’t brush your teeth you’ll get cavities.” Then if they do get a cavity, they wonder what is going to happen. Instead encourage them, “You have such a happy smile. Let’s keep it bright and shining.”
- Refrain from using words such as hurt, pain, and brave in connection with the appointment.
- Don’t bribe the child(“If you’re good, we will go get a yogurt.”), however, tying the visit in with a pleasant outing can be helpful. When I was growing up we always stopped off for an ice cream after dental visits. I grew up thinking of a visit to the dentist as a trip to the ice cream shop… and I still have pleasant memories of dental visits…even when treatment was done.
- Present the visit in a positive light, but don’t over-explain or make a “big deal” out of the appointment. Leave most of the explaining to us. If you’re in doubt as to how to handle the explanation, a quick pre-appointment phone call to us should answer all your questions.
- Don’t define the parameters of the dental visit. For example, if you say “The dentist is only going to count and wash your teeth”, that’s all the child expects to happen. Should we discover something that needs immediate attention, or should our office routine differ somewhat from you description, the child may be unprepared for these deviations and this could result in unnecessary anxiety. Therefore, it is best to say something like “The dentist is going to count your teeth and then he’ll see what else needs to be done.”
- Avoid discussing any unpleasant experiences you’ve had with a dentist in front of the child. Kids “learn” nearly all apprehension from their parents.
- Be sure to tell us about any previous negative dental experiences your child has had, as well as any fears you or others have transmitted to them. This includes bad experiences at a physician’s office. Kids usually don’t differentiate between the doctor and the dentist.
- Be willing to wait for the child in the reception room and don’t encourage clinging.
- Friends and older brothers and sisters frequently frighten youngsters about the dentist Try to avoid this, but if it is unavoidable teach the child to rely on you and the dentist for accurate information. “Oh, they’re just teasing you. If something frightens you be sure to tell Dr. Balaze or Dr. Gregg so they can help you.”