Do you experience anxiety when it’s time for your dental checkups? If so, you’re not alone. One study found that more than 35% of the population experiences dental anxiety or fear, and that more than 10% have extreme dental fear, rising to the level of phobia.
You want your child to build habits that will lead to a healthy life, and part of that is getting dental checkups regularly. If you have dental anxiety, it’s likely your child will pick up on it. And, even if you don’t have dental anxiety, your child may still feel fearful about visiting the dentist, either because of how it’s portrayed in popular media, or simply because it’s an odd experience.
The staff and dentists at Expressions in Dentistry in Folsom, California, want your child to feel positively about dental visits. After all, regular checkups are the best way to avoid decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.
In this post, we discuss some of the things you need to know about talking to your child about the dentist. When your child knows what to expect, they feel more prepared, and that leads to a better experience.
It may seem a little odd to pair the words “excitement” and “dentist,” but when it comes to helping your child feel positively about dental exams, it helps if you convey excitement. When you’re enthusiastic and positive in how you talk about a visit to the dentist, your child is much less likely to worry. Explain to your child how important it is to take care of their teeth, just like grownups do, so that they will last a lifetime.
Talk about your own positive experiences at the dentist and reiterate how brushing and flossing are important ways to take care of their teeth. Explain that they will learn more about proper brushing and flossing during their visit.
You may want to read some books about visiting the dentist to help them know what to expect and understand that dental visits aren’t scary, but can be fun. Your excitement and a kid-friendly story about the dentist can ease any fears your child may have.
Make it a game
Play is one of the most important ways kids learn about the world. Just like they play “school” or “house,” you can play “dentist” with them. All you need is a toothbrush and their favorite doll or stuffed animal. Show them how the dentist counts their teeth and checks to make sure they are all healthy.
You might even let your child examine your teeth and count them. This type of play can allow your child to feel comfortable lying back in the dentist chair, and it will give them a good idea of what to expect at their appointment.
Don’t share your fear
If your child senses fear, anxiety, or worry from you about going to the dentist, they’ll likely feel that way themselves. Since your child doesn’t have an opinion about dental visits yet, you want to help them see them in a positive light.
Timing is important
Morning appointments are often better for children. In the morning, they aren’t tired from a busy day, and they’re less likely to have a meltdown. When you schedule your child’s dental visit, think about when they’re least likely to be tired, hungry, or fussy.
Enjoy a treat after your visit
Plan something fun, like a visit to a playground or a pleasant walk, after their dental visit. That way, they’re already looking forward to another positive experience, and the dentist visit can simply be part of a fun morning or afternoon.
If your child still has apprehension about visiting the dentist, consider allowing them to bring a favorite comfort item like a toy or stuffed animal. Our team at Expressions in Dentistry will do everything we can to help, too!
Get started on a lifetime of excellent oral health today! Schedule your child’s dental visit online or give us a call at 916-252-9186.