“Getting my child to make her bed is like pulling teeth.”
A saying I’m sure you, too, are guilty of saying, and it’s pretty accurate might I add. Taking your child to the place that actually pulls their teeth can be somewhat of a headache. So, what can you do to get your child to stop throwing a tantrum every time you head to the dentist?
1. Visit a kid-approved dentist
And no, every pediatric dentist isn’t kid-approved. Make sure the office staff and most importantly the dentist is friendly and approachable. If you feel uncomfortable, your kids definitely feel uncomfortable. Another thing to keep in mind is make sure the lobby is kid-friendly and fun. This may seem silly, but chances are you’re going to be doing a lot of waiting in that room so having toys and other things to keep your little ones busy can help alleviate some stress.
2. Start at home
There are so many toys, books, and even games about teeth and the dentist. The app “My Healthy Smile” teaches children about oral health and eases anxieties by telling them exactly what to expect from a visit to the dentist. Warm them up to the idea by starting at home using these awesome resources.
3. Practice what you preach
We all know that kids mimic the behavior of their parents, so don’t be the reason your kids are scared of the dentist! It’s easier said than done, but for the sake of your kids, and your sanity while you take them to the dentist, show your kids that there is nothing to be scared of. If you’re nervous when you go to the dentist, your kids will be too.
4. Listen to their fears
Give your kids the opportunity in a judgement-free zone to express their fears about going to the dentist. Let them ask questions and answer with honesty. Many times just talking it out can help alleviate some of the anxiety that comes from the dentist’s office.
5. Let them in on the small decisions
Good dental health – and avoiding all the scary dentist visits – starts at home. Let your little ones pick out the toothbrush and toothpaste they want, even if the ones they want costs a little more. Trust me, a few dollars now will save on hundreds of dollars on dental work later.
6. Tell them in advance about the upcoming visit
Give your child plenty of notice about their appointment and remind them throughout the week. Showing up at the dentist’s office with no warning can provoke fear and anxiety in your kids.
7. Use positive words
Especially if you’re talking to the little ones, words like “teeth cleaning” and “dentist’s office” are harsh and may provoke fear. Instead try telling your cuties that they are going to get their smile checked from a friend. These positive words will alleviate some of that initial fear that comes from going to any kind of check-up.
8. End on a positive note
Make it a point to do something fun after leaving the dentist. Take them to the park, treat them to a new toy they’ve been wanting, go see a movie, or let them pick the afternoon activities. Ending the day on a happy note will encourage them to look forward to the next time they visit the dentist.
You may feel like you are working against the grain on this one, but trust me, eliminating fears early on will save you from a lot of stress down the road. As ironic as it sounds, trips to the dentist don’t have to be like pulling teeth and hopefully these tips will help you out.