Knowing the best way to prepare your child for his or her visit can reduce the amount of stress you and your child experience leading up to the appointment. A positive first impression will help reduce his or her fears, making future visits less anxiety-provoking.
Tips for Calming Fears of the Dentist
Express the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth and strong teeth. Let your child know that the dentist is the doctor who helps do this.
Tips for helping your child feel less anxious about visiting the dentist:
- Choose a pediatric dentist — pediatric dentists undergo special training to learn which strategies help children feel at ease during their dental visits.
- Avoid showing anxiety — parents who show anxiety risk their child picking up on it.
- Speak positively about the dentist — speak positively when you talk about your past dental visits. Say things like, “I love how my teeth feel after they are cleaned and polished at the dentist's office.” You can also say, “At your visit with Dr. Mary Jo McGuire, she will count the number of teeth you have and check them to ensure your teeth stay strong and healthy.”
- Provide limited details — talk about your dental visits; however, avoid telling your child that something will be painful. Also, never tell your child about negative experiences you have had at the dentist.
- Answer questions — use short, simple, to-the-point answers. Let the dentist answer more detailed or complex questions. Pediatric dentists learn the non-threatening way to explain procedures to children in an easy-to-understand language. If your child asks you a question you are unsure how to answer, tell him/her that you don’t know, but you can ask the dentist at their visit.
Surprise Your Child with a Reward
It is common for parents to promise their children a reward as long as they cooperate with the dentist. However, experts recommend not promising to give your child a reward beforehand; otherwise, he or she may feel anxious throughout the appointment, anticipating the upcoming reward. Instead, surprise your child with something special after the appointment.
Let the Dentist Create Rapport with Your Child
Although you may feel pressured to keep your child engaged during his or her appointment, experts recommend that you let the staff and dentist use their language when it comes to shots, pain or hurt during the appointment. In addition, by letting the dentist and staff talk with your child, you are allowing them to build a rapport, which helps reduce the amount of fear your child will experience during his or her next dental visit.
Most dentists provide sunglasses to use specifically at the dentist's office. The bright lights used during exams can cause some children to feel uncomfortable. Sunglasses can help reduce the amount of stress your child feels once the dentist turns the lights on to look inside his or her mouth.
Choose a Qualified, Experienced Pediatric Dentist
Choosing a qualified pediatric dentist is essential. Pediatric dentists are highly-trained dental professionals specializing in caring for the oral health of children from infancy through the teenage years. These dentists are uniquely trained in the management of preventative and invasive dental treatment for children. All pediatric dental services are provided in a child-sensitive, friendly way. Therefore, a pediatric dentist is the best-trained clinician to help with preventing oral disease, cavities and dental injury in children.
Whenever Possible, Stay with the Same Pediatric Dentist
Once you find a pediatric dentist that your child feels comfortable with, stay with that dentist. Moving your child around to different dentists and locations creates unnecessary stress and anxiety. Kids feel more comfortable when they are treated by the same dentist each visit.
If your child’s first tooth has just erupted, contact Dr. MaryJo McGuire today at 908-735-6300 to schedule your child's examination. If you have an older child who has never seen a dentist, has a dental problem or needs a dental checkup and cleaning, please contact the office today at 908-735-6300. Our office is located at 1465 Rte. 31 South, Annandale, New Jersey.