YOUR CHILD'S FIRST VISIT
Most children do not inherently fear going to the dentist. Understandably young children may have a fear of the unknown as well as fear of medical environments. Older kids may be fearful if they have had bad experiences with previous dental treatment. Or some children may just be more anxious or sensitive. We have found the following tips useful in helping kids be more prepared and less fearful with their visits:
- begin dental care early. By following a preventive strategy you can hopefully prevent your child from developing cavities at a young age, when treatment is usually more challenging. Studies show that children who visit the dentist early generally are less anxious than those who start later.
- practice good oral hygiene and dietary practices in front of your children so they learn to value those behaviors
- read books about dental health and visiting the dentist. Some of our favorites are, "Dora Goes to the Dentist", "Sugar Bug Doug", "Maisy, Charlie, and the Wobbly Tooth", "How Many Teeth?", and "Elmo Visits the Dentist."
- never discuss your own fears or anxieties about visiting the dentist in front of your child. Your child will pick up on even subtle vibes you are putting out. Strive to make all discussions positive.
- do pretend play with your child and allow him or her to brush your teeth and be the dentist. Amazon carries play dentist kits as well as dentist Play Doh kits that will help remove fear of the unknown.
TIPS IF YOUR CHILD NEEDS TREATMENT
We have found that, for the vast majority of kids, the less they know about the technical details of dental treatment, the better. We don't use words like "shot", "hurt", or "pain." Some children are even scared of the word "cavity." Instead, we talk about brushing out cavity germs that are trying to make their tooth sick. We sometimes describe a cavity as a brown spot that needs to be brushed out. We also find that if it is necessary to talk about technical details of treatment it is better to talk about it outside of the child's presence. We welcome you to join your child while he or she is having the treatment done. We ask only that you support our terminology and maintain a mostly "silent partner" presence. This will avoid confusing your child with too many voices speaking at once.