Does your child have a fear of the dentist? (Do you?) Whether it’s your child’s first time at the dentist or your child has already displayed some fear of the dentist, Dr. Shonna Masse, paediatric dentist at the Children’s Dental Centre in Toronto, shares pro tips on how to make your visit a positive experience—or at least a not-so-scary one.
1. Read books with your child beforehand.
Many children’s books deal with this subject: Dora, Curious George, and the Berenstain Bears all go the dentist, and love it. This is a good way to introduce the operation of a dental office to children.
2. Make it a happy day.
Take the kids for lunch at their favourite restaurant after the appointment or do some other special activity together.
3. Keep them busy while they wait.
Bring headphones and games for kids for the waiting room. Anticipation can be worse than the thing they’re dreading.
4. Talk to the dentist in advance.
You can help by informing the dentist before you arrive about any particular fears the child may have such as the sound of the dental suction or the taste of the fluoride. The dentist can usually make simple accommodations.
5. Consider a paediatric dentist.
Paediatric dentists are experts in managing fear, anxiety, and behaviour of children in the dental setting. They have extensive training post dental school with respect to the needs of children, including (but not limited to) dental trauma in children. They help children develop into great adult dental patients who understand the importance of good oral health.
6. Keep kids in the loop.
Give children ample notice of the appointment and remind them it’s coming up. Try not to ambush them and surprise them at the last minute and tell them they are going to the dentist as you are in the dentist’s parking lot. You may see a meltdown before you even get into the office.
7. Be positive.
Help ease the anxiety of going to the dentist by not portraying the dentist as someone to fear. Keep your own fears in check and try to avoid making negative comments about the dentist in front of your children. Create a happy view of the dentist by being as positive about dentistry as you can.
READ MORE: Dr. Masse debunks 4 big myths about kids’ oral health.
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