Children need dental health check-ups regularly as adults do. However, not all children are willing and interested to visit a dental clinic, especially if they have a fearful experience in a hospital or with a healthcare worker in the past. So, how do you prepare your child for a dental visit?
Manage Dental Anxiety
Dental anxieties, phobias, or fears shouldn’t be ignored, especially in children. A child may show signs of stress and anxiety such as sweating, palpitations, crying, shouting, withdrawal, panicking, or fainting.
Managing dentist anxiety takes a collaborative effort of parents and dentists. Dentists often suggest sedation procedures to ease stress and prevent panic attacks for children who require dental treatment.
Here are the other ways parents can do to help their children manage dental anxiety:
- Teach your child to perform deep breathing exercises.
- Let your child see pictures, watch a video on a screen, or other forms of distractions.
- Teach your child to perform meditation.
Make Dental Hygiene Activities Fun
There are many fun ways to get children to brush their teeth such as using a kid-friendly toothbrush (with cartoon character theme) and recording their video while brushing, like what they see on popular video platforms. You can use the same concept in introducing dental visits to your child.
Look at these fun dental hygiene tips to prepare your child for a dental visit:
- Brush Your Teeth with Music: Make brushing fun by playing the favorite nursery rhymes of your little one. It’s a fun way to teach your child how to brush their teeth properly, following the right timing and manner.
- Watch Videos: Let your little one watch videos of children visiting dentists online. Make sure to watch the videos yourself first before you let your child watch them ascertain the right message of the content. Some videos may show children being afraid of the dentist the first time they visit the clinic, triggering and feeding the same feeling and idea to your child.
- Role-Playing: Because kids love to play, you can act as the dentist and use dentist-tool-toys to check your child’s teeth. After a fun play, assess your child’s readiness and perception about dentists by asking questions like ‘Do you like to visit a real dentist soon?’.
Conduct A Telehealth Session
You can introduce your child gradually to a dentist by first undergoing an online or telehealth session. Dental clinics offer telehealth services, which involve using digital platforms and devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, to meet with clients.
Through telehealth, your child can meet and greet with a pediatric dentist who can also help you educate your little one about the importance of dental check-ups. A pediatric dentist knows how to deal with child patients. Pediatric dentists have in-depth skills in easing stress and anxiety in children.
Make a telehealth dental session more fun by gathering your child’s stuffed toys to join him with this new activity. Let your child watch a short video about a dentist before the actual telehealth session to set his mood for this online meetup.
Answer Your Child’s Questions
When you talk about visiting a dentist to your child, expect many questions such as, “Mommy, is it painful?” or “How long will the dentist remove my tooth?”
Children are smarter than ever because of the readily available information they see online and watch on TV. They already have an idea that dental procedures can be scary because of the associated pain with it. However, what children don’t fully understand is how a dental procedure works, which causes them to have fear of the unknown.
Therefore, it’s important to answer your child’s questions sincerely but gently. While dental procedures aren’t really just like an ant’s bite, tell your child that a numbing agent or anesthesia is available to make the pain less.
Share your personal experiences dealing with dental visits when you were a child. Acknowledge your child’s fears and be there to listen. At the end of the day, your child’s best weapon to conquer dental anxiety is the right information to set his proper expectations and avoid surprises.
Parents need to be creative in introducing new things to children nowadays. If your child needs to visit a dentist for the first time, try to apply the tips shared in this article to help you. Remember that your child may already have an idea what a dentist does and may show signs of stress. Be there as your child’s greatest supporter to overcome dental anxiety.