Does your child tremble at the mention of a dentist appointment? As a parent, there are many ways to soothe the stress. Help your child move from screaming “AHHH!!!” to calmly opening wide and saying, “Ahh…”
Dawn of the Dentist: INFANTS & TODDLERS
Infants and toddlers experience “firsts” on a daily basis. Once your child turns 1, it’s time to introduce him or her to another first – a dental visit.
Keep it positive. Talk in a calm, upbeat tone leading up to the appointment. Your child can pick up on your tone and stress level.
Bring a soothing item from home. A blanket or favorite toy can distract your tot, while making him or her more comfortable.
Child’s Play: CHILDREN
Your child has likely already visited the dentist a handful of times, which can make bi-yearly cleanings a stressful event. De-stress their dental experience:
Choose a kid-friendly dental office. You may love your dentist, but is he or she a good fit for the whole family? Consider taking your child to a different practice that focuses on children. Many include colorful waiting rooms, books, toys and video games. Find a pediatric dentist near you.
Praise your child after the appointment. Remember, this check-up was a big deal to your little one. Express how proud you are of him or her for braving another dentist visit.
Friday the 13th (year): TEENS
Like many adults, teens experience dental anxiety too. Your child may be more dramatic in his or her teen years. But on the other hand, they might be embarrassed to admit fear of an upcoming appointment.
Talk to your teen. Ask questions and offer advice. What are their expectations? What about the dentist makes them feel this way? You might be surprised by how talking can help.
Introduce relaxation techniques. There are many meditation programs that train patients to relax their muscles. Studies show that these programs help to relieve dental anxiety.
A dental visit doesn’t have to be a nightmare for your child. Be patient and try a variety of age-appropriate methods. Is your child afraid of the dentist? What has worked and what hasn’t? Share your advice in the comments section.