Most parents would agree that the overall health of their children is very important and should be a family priority. Oral hygiene is an important factor that contributes to the overall health of both children and adults. Unfortunately, routine dental appointments are not at the top of most parents priority lists for their children unless an issue arises. This, along with other misconceptions, can lead to avoidable anxieties about the dentist. If your child is less than excited about their upcoming dental appointment, begin to work some of the following recommendations into your routine and your dental visits. Overtime, going to the dentist should be a lot easier for everyone involved.
Start Early – Stay Consistent!
The American Dental Association recommends you bring your child for their first dental visit within six months of their first tooth eruption, or no later than their first birthday. If you have already missed this mark, it’s okay! Schedule that first appointment and get consistent in your dental visits. The first few appointments for small children are very simple and are meant as building blocks to a relationship that will make it fun rather than scary. The younger you start, the easier it will be. It is also important to remain consistent in your dental check ups and cleanings. You should see the dentist twice a year for routine dental care. If you only go to the dentist when something is wrong, fear is bound to emerge. Making it a part of their routine will minimize fear and make for a much easier visit. Anxiety is often simply the result of uncertainties of the experience. This will also instill oral hygiene importance into your child which will lead to healthier oral hygiene decisions as an adult.
Mom & Dad, Relax!
Your babies, regardless of their age, will feed off of your emotions. They are more in tune with you than you can imagine. This means that if you have negative feelings towards going to the dentist, you could be transferring some of your dental anxiety to your children. Despite your view on dental visits, do your best to avoid showing displeasure in front of your kids.
Dental Experiences at Home
Establish an oral health routine for your little ones at home as soon as that first tooth erupts. As your child grows into the toddler years, have conversations about teeth and the importance of taking good care of them. There are tons of great books and videos on this topic that will make it fun to learn about oral hygiene. You can even incorporate dental experiences into active play time with your child. Role play and take turns being the patient and the dentist. This can be a fun way to engage them and walk them through what to expect, removing fears and helping them to feel safe and secure when they are in the actual situation.
If your child has a favorite stuffed animal or toy, let them bring it with them to their dental appointment. Having something familiar can make them feel more comfortable. It also provides a great gateway for conversation with the dentist and staff.
At the end of the day, communication is key. Talk to your children in a way they can understand and do your best to mentally prepare them for the dentist in a calm, comforting way, just as you would any other new experience. You know your child best and are ultimately the best at providing comfort. If you are looking for a pediatric dentist, we would love the opportunity to meet with you. Maestri Family Dental has an excellent atmosphere for children and takes on the dual role of dentist and educator on oral health. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!