Turning a trip to the dentist into a punishment is tempting. “You got a cavity? Well, it’s your fault for not brushing your teeth and for eating too much junk.” Don’t do this. It can make your child’s relationship with the dentist an unhappy one, and risk them having a lifelong fear of the dentist. Here are some other ways you can make sure your child isn’t afraid of the dentist.
1. Make sure the dentist they see has ample experience treating children.
Not all dentists are great with children. Go with a practice that is specifically for pediatric dentistry or a family dentist that has experience treating people of all ages.
2. Don’t tell them it won’t hurt
Avoid talking about whether it will hurt or not. When you tell them “you won’t feel a thing,” it might just make them scared that they will feel it, and it will hurt. In fact, don’t make any promises. Make sure they know that going to the dentist is something that everyone does, and let the dental professionals talk to them about what to expect once they are there. They know what words to avoid and what’s the best way to keep them comfortable.
3. Don’t make a big deal out of it
Just like going to the doctor, a dental check-up is just a part of life. Don’t make it the only topic of conversation for the week leading up to the appointment. Always avoid bribery. Don’t tell them they will get a prize if they sit still. If after the appointment you want to give them praise for doing a great job, that’s the much better option.
4. Go before there’s a problem
Perhaps the most important reason to take your child to the dentist while they’re young is that they won’t have any oral health problems yet. You want to make sure the majority of their experiences at the dentist are positive, and taking them early and keeping their teeth healthy are the best ways to do that.
When your child isn’t afraid of the dentist, it isn’t a struggle to get them there, and they will have a much better chance of keeping their mouths healthy and happy throughout their entire life. Follow these steps, and if you need some guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist for support.