It’s only natural for children to get nervous about dental appointments, and parents are always seeking ways to make the experience easier. Dr. Sandler of Solana Family Dental, a La Costa area dental practice, offers practical advice that parents can employ. Check out her top five tips for getting kids comfortable with dental appointments.
Tip #1: Talk to your child about your own appointments.
Tell them that you’re looking forward to getting your teeth cleaned, and go on about how great your mouth feels afterwards. Be sure to show off your clean, healthy smile every time you return from the dentist! Treat yourself to a small gift afterwards, like a trip to the movies or a box of sugar-free popsicles. Definitely let kids know if they will be getting a free toothbrush, floss, or post-visit prize.
Tip #2: Explain what will happen before you go in.
Your Carlsbad area dentist suggests demonstrating teeth cleaning on a stuffed animal or doll, and explaining each step in simple, easy to understand language. Focus on the fun and funny parts – how the cleaning paste might taste like strawberry, for example, or how silly it sounds when you try to talk with your mouth wide open.
Tip #3: Do a trial run.
Go visit the dentist’s office in advance, so they can check out the reception area and meet the people who work at the front desk. If possible, schedule a few minutes to look at the room their appointment will be in, and meet the dentist and dental hygienist. Give your child time to play with the toys in the waiting area, and acclimate themselves with the environment. This helps to eliminate their fear of the unknown, making the real visit less intimidating.
Tip #4: Help them to be brave.
What makes your child feel brave or secure? It may a blanket or stuffed animal that goes everywhere with them, or maybe a superhero costume or “magic” piece of jewelry. Encourage your child to identify ways that they can feel more safe and in control, and use those ideas for the dental visit. Your dentist in La Jolla says to just make sure their mouth and face aren’t obstructed by whatever they choose.
Tip #5: Tie dental care in with their favorite characters.
These days, you can find the big popular characters on every kind of product. You can, for example, read your child a Sesame Street book about seeing the dentist, and then find a Sesame Street episode or clip that addresses the same topic. You can purchase Elmo toothpaste, an Elmo toothbrush, and an Elmo stuffed animal that can go with children to see the dentist. Use your child’s favorite characters and toys to increase positive associations when they think about visiting the dentist.