As a parent, you hate to see your child feeling anxious or worried. Unfortunately for about 10% of kids, visiting the dentist seems to go hand-in-hand with anxiety.
As a leading pediatric dentistry practice with locations in Brea, Corona, Covina, Riverside, Ontario, and Perris, California, Dental Kidz Club specializes in helping nervous kids — and their parents — feel calm and comfortable. Here are six tips to help your child chill out the next time they visit our office.
#1: Start the habit early — and stick with it
The American Dental Association (ADA) says kids should have their first dental visit before they reach their first birthday, and ideally as soon as the first baby tooth appears. In addition to spotting potential issues early on while the jaw and teeth are still forming, early visits help your child get used to the dentist so visits become part of their normal life routine.
For older kids, make sure to stick with twice-yearly checkups. Having regular checkups reduces the risk of developing a serious oral health issue (like a big cavity), and it also helps your child accept dental visits as part of their regular routine.
#2: Explain why seeing the dentist is important
For kids as well as adults, a lot of anxiety comes from fear of the unknown. Teach your kids why oral health is so important, and how seeing the dentist on a regular basis is the best way to keep their teeth healthy. (This tip can help kids understand the importance of brushing and flossing regularly, too.)
#3: Let young children role play
Younger kids may want to “play dentist” on a stuffed animal or doll. This type of role playing helps kids feel more familiar with the checkup process and feel more in control once they’re finally in the dentist’s chair.
#4: Watch your language
If you have your own worries about seeing the dentist, it’s surprisingly easy to transmit those worries to your child, even though you don’t mean to. When talking about their upcoming dental visit, avoid saying things like, “It won’t hurt.”
For your child, all they hear is “hurt” — and that can start a whole cascade of anxious thinking. Instead, keep your words positive and simple, focusing on the benefits of seeing the dentist and how clean their teeth will feel afterward.
#5: Set an example
If kids see you visiting the dentist regularly for checkups and other care, they’re more likely to follow along. On the other hand, if you constantly skip checkups or put off fixing oral health problems of your own, you might find it more difficult to convince your child that seeing the dentist is an important part of self-care.
If you have dental anxiety yourself, take care not to “telegraph” your unease to your child. Instead, talk to your dentist about options they may offer to make your visits more pleasant, too.
#6: Ask about nitrous oxide
As experienced pediatric dentists, our entire team is dedicated to helping kids overcome their worries so they can keep their teeth and gums healthy and strong. We offer nitrous oxide to help kids stay calm, relaxed, and comfortable no matter what type of care they’re receiving.
Fear of the dentist is a big reason why kids and adults put off having their teeth professionally cared for. As a parent, you play a major role in making sure your child starts off on the right track with good oral health habits — including regular trips to the dentist.
For more advice on helping your child relax or to schedule a visit for your child at Dental Kidz Club, book an appointment online or over the phone today.