Are you gearing up for a visit to the dentist and have a less-than-eager child on your hands? Looks like your child is joining the 75% of Americans losing sleep over tomorrow’s dreaded dentist visit.
Remember: kids aren’t born with a natural fear of the dentist, so if at all possible, don’t put any of your fear in their heads! But if you weren’t able to intervene with damage control before their older brother haunted them with tales of dentist visits gone wrong, here are a few quick fixes to make the dentist less scary.
1. START YOUNG
Happy 1st birthday, now off to the dentist! Parents should schedule their child’s first dentist visit as soon as they blow out the candles. (Well, maybe not that soon, but you get the idea.)
If your child grows up regularly visiting the dentist, they’ll be significantly more comfortable and, in turn, more likely to continue good oral hygiene for the rest of their lives.
2. AVOID BRIBERY
I know, I know. Sometimes it’s just easier to use the watermelon-flavored lollipop or the trip to Chuck E. Cheese. The problem is that kids are much smarter than we give them credit for, and they can recognize a bribe from a mile away (not that they aren’t interested in bargaining, mind you). But the bribe signals to them that there’s something you want them to do that they should not want to do, and this could set off the alarms.
Which leads me to the next point…
3. CHOOSE YOUR WORDS WISELY
Avoid the scary words, like “drilling” and “pain.” Instead, tell your child that the dentist is going to check their smile and count their teeth. He’ll also look for Sugar Bugs and get rid of any that he finds.
4. MAKE A PRETEND VISIT
Finally, time to get something out of those hours of make-believe! Have your child pretend to be the dentist and use a toothbrush to clean the teeth of a stuffed animal. (StarSmilez would be perfect for this! Or, I guess, you could always try the family dog…)
5. OPT FOR A PEDIATRIC DENTIST
Pediatric dentists are the not-so-scary version of a regular dentist. With everything catering to young patients — office décor, treatment, interaction — they’re more likely to put your child (and you!) at ease.