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As soon as you walk into the dentist’s office, it might seem like your child has a meltdown. Unfortunately, it is something that almost all of us can relate to. Because of past experiences, going to the dentist can be a challenge. While some kids enjoy getting their teeth checked and getting a prize form the dentist, some children just cannot get past the memories, sights, and sounds that they experienced when they were first there and associate with that tall man in the surgical mask. Fortunately, there are a ways that can help you keep your child calm at the dentist and begin to build positive memories and associations with the dentist.
Before heading to see the dentist, talk to your child about what they can expect. Look at a few pictures of the dentist office online. Go to the library with them and read a few books about the procedures that a dentist performs.
Many kids’ shows even have episodes about dentists and why you don’t need to be afraid of them. There are lots of options out there that show your kid what to expect when they go to the dentist. If your child is educated and understands the importance of keeping the teeth healthy, then the visit will likely be a better one for both of you.
Take a Tour
Before the appointment, take a tour of the office. Let your child look at the instruments that are used. Talk to the dentist and the staff at the office. Allow your child to sit on one of the chairs and to explore the environment to get a better idea as to the sounds that can be heard as well as some of the things that might be seen at the visit. Most pediatric offices will allow children to come in to visit with some of the patients as well as long as there isn’t an emergency procedure taking place.
By Their Side
If possible, sit beside your child at the dentist’s office. This can often be the best thing to help with overcoming the fear of going to the office. While you’re with your child, talk about the ways that you care for your teeth and how to keep them healthy. This is also a good time to ask the dentist about any concerns you have or if there are any questions about getting your child involved in their own oral care.
Although bribes are often frowned upon, you can offer a reward if your child is well-behaved in the office. However, don’t offer anything like candy or foods that aren’t good for the teeth. Consider taking a trip to the library or picking out a movie to watch with the family as a way to celebrate a job well done.
Visiting the dentist is a part of life. If visits begin at an early age, then your child will begin to develop a relationship with the dentist and not be as afraid to go to the office. Model the behavior that you want your child to perform regarding oral care. Offer encouragement for visiting the dentist while listening to the needs and desires of your child in case something needs to change.