I have been a dentist for over twenty years, treating adults and children of all ages. As a mom, I love taking care of our pediatric patients! When kids have difficulties during a dental visit, oftentimes it is because of something the parents have inadvertently done (or not done). This is so unfortunate, especially since it is so avoidable. Please read my five suggestions on how to prepare your child to have a good dental visit!
Rule #1: Ask the dental office about how to best prepare your child for what to expect at the dental visit. Kids are very perceptive and will sense your unhealthy vibes if you are fearful, no matter how much you try to hide it. The dental office will have suggestions and maybe even some age appropriate reading material you can use.
Rule #2: Schedule the visit for a time when your child is not tired. A healthy snack before the appointment is also a good idea. Kids who are hungry and tired will be less cooperative. As a practicing dentist, and also a mom, I have a fridge with healthy drinks and snacks in my waiting room for just such a need!
Rule #3: If you tend to be squeamish, don’t come back into the treatment area. I will come out to the reception area and give periodic updates to parents who choose to remain there. It is no shame to admit that you can’t handle watching a medical or dental procedure. Believe it or not, I have had to quickly pull a child out of the dental chair to get his dad to lie down before he passed out!
Rule #4: Don’t talk about bad dental experiences in front of your child! Modern dentistry is a lot different than when you were a kid. Don’t pass your fears onto the next generation!
Rule #5: Never use “the dentist” as a threat. You might find this hard to believe, but I’ve had parents threaten their children to cooperate or else they would make me give a shot! I’ve had parents tell children if they don’t brush their teeth, that I was going to hurt them. How am I to establish a rapport with your child if he hears comments like that from you?
Lastly, I would tell you to take the time to talk to your own dentist if you have been procrastinating out of fear. Maybe if you see your child have a positive dental experience, it might just provide the push you need to start taking care of your own mouth!