Making your kids brush is difficult enough, but taking them for dental treatments is another story. Shouting, screaming along with a lot of waterworks are usually expected. But fear not! All your child’s dental appointments do not have to go like this.
There are a lot of ways to make your child’s dental treatment visits a peaceful affair. First, let’s start with understanding why your child is scared of dental treatments
- Fear/anticipation of pain
- Strange surroundings with new people
- Fear of intrusion
- Fear of betrayal/ mistrust
- Fear of Loss of control
Children are still learning about the world, so the onus is on parents and dentists to make sure that children have stress and fear-free dental visit. Here are some ways to make them feel comfortable and relieve their fears.
Honesty is the best policy
Do you often tell your child white lies to avoid scaring them? This won’t work with dental treatments. Be honest with your child and address their fears directly. Make them understand that the pain of dental treatments is momentary, but it will permanently address their toothache and dental problems. It is ok to sugar coat things, but do not say things like –‘the appointment will be for 5 minutes only’ for a 45-minute appointment. This creates mistrust, so be honest.
Rise and shine
Is your child a ray of sunshine in the morning? Then ask your dentist for a morning appointment. Kids are usually fresh and happy in the morning after a long night’s sleep. They cope with the stresses of dental treatment better in the morning. Besides, a morning visit will mean that they get lesser time to think and in turn worry about dental treatment. So try and fix the first appointment in the morning.
Familiarity does not breed contempt
The dental office is a strange, scary new place for kids. So taking something familiar for dental treatments will comfort and calm your child down. Carry their favorite toy or blanket or book. Let them hold your hand. This will bring their anxiety down and make dental treatment quicker for them and easier for the dentist. So take some of your child’s favorite stuff for a smoother dental appointment.
Tummy full, cranky out
A hangry child is a ticking time bomb. Feed your child before taking them on their appointments. Hungry kids get agitated and cranky easily. A child with a full tummy will be more co-operative. Besides, after certain procedures, the child is not allowed to drink or eat anything for 30 minutes. So it is best to feed them well before their appointments.
Good vibes only
Did you have a bad experience with dental treatment? Do not dump your bad dental experiences on your child, especially just before their appointments. Similarly do not scare them with injections or other dental equipment. This will cause them to develop a lifelong fear of dental treatments. Tell them only good stories or the positives of getting dental treatment. So, be a positive role model for your child.
Give them something to look forward too
The best way to bring your child’s anxiety down is to distract them. Plan something fun and rewarding right after the dental visit. It may be a visit to a friend or grandparents or take them to the park, beach, or zoo. This will give them something to look forward to and not get too anxious about dental treatments. Do not bribe them with chocolates or ice creams after visit as that will defeat the whole point.
Don’t give up
Did you follow all of the above tips and still your child kicked up a storm in the dental office? It is okay. Each child is different and needs their own time to adjust to things. But don’t stop their dental treatment. Try a different approach, or visit a different dentist. It is important to treat their teeth, not just for their physical development but mental development as well. Learning to cope with the stress of dental treatment will give them the mental strength to face a lot of things in life.
So visit the dentist as soon as your child turns one, to get them used to seeing a dentist. This way their dental problems will get caught early on and their treatments will be simpler and quicker. Make sure they brush and floss regularly to maintain good oral hygiene.