Teaching your children good dental care is one of the best things you can do for their health. Habits that you pick up as a child are likely to stick around well into adulthood. When you’re a kid, the dentist can be a scary place. Whether it’s a bad experience with a filling or just a case of being scared of “getting in trouble” with the dentist – we’ve seen it all! Unfortunately, a childhood fear of the dentist is, unfortunately, something that can last well into adulthood and make it more difficult to seek help and keep up with essential checkups. So how can we encourage kids to see a trip to the dentist as a fun thing?
Choosing a dentist who is great with children is obviously a great first step. This will take a lot of the pressure off you, the parent, to keep your child calm or distracted. We pride ourselves on offering great family dental care, so if you have a particularly nervous child, let us know when you make the appointment and we will do everything we can to make them comfortable. We can even start their appointment in a waiting room before they even see the dentist’s chair.
If your child is worried about “getting in trouble” with the dentist, making a star chart to show how well they brush their teeth is a great step to help them get over this fear. Not only will they take an active interest in brushing their teeth, but they will also have something to show off to the dentist and the nurses when they get to the dentist.
Costumes are a great way to fill your child with confidence. They might not be so nervous about sitting in the dentist’s chair if they feel like a superhero, so maybe you could make encourage them to wear a cape for their next appointment? Just try not to let them wear a helmet or a mask, as this might make it difficult for the dentist to see their teeth!
Children are incredibly receptive and will quickly pick up on your own nerves about visiting the dentist. If you’re a little nervous around the dentist’s chair, try not to pass this fear on to your child. You may not even be aware that you’re doing it, so pay careful attention to your language and attitude when it comes to planning a trip to the dentist. Even indirect language like “try to be brave” can make children think that there is something to be afraid of.
Everyone responds well to rewards. Offering a reward in return for good behaviour at the dentist is a tried and tested method. Try something fun like a trip to a trampoline park, or make it educational like a trip to the zoo.