We all know it is important that children visit a dentist regularly to keep their teeth and gums healthy. But sometimes the experience at the dentist can be overwhelming! The sounds, smells, strange faces and environments all add to the anxiety.
As a mum of two young kids, I have had my fair share of kids’ cries and tantrums at the doctors. After watching my son protesting against a simple ear check at the doctor’s, I’ve realised what I have done wrong – I have not prepared my child for it to be a success. In some way, I’ve failed him.
So how can you help to prepare your child so their next dental visits is going to be a success? Here are the five simple tips:
- Role play at home: before the visit, role play with your child at home, taking turns to be the patient and the dentist. Your child can use a toothbrush to clean teddy bear’s teeth, or you can count your child’s teeth using your phone camera as a torch. This allows the child to understand that the dentist will be later looking in their mouth and checking the health of their teeth.
- Watch your language: children are much more cluey than we think. Even if they do not understand your words, they can sense your anxiety through your tones and vibes. Instead of using words such as “it won’t hurt” “it will be ok I promise” which only reinforces negativities, try saying “your dentist will help you grow healthy and strong teeth” and “she likes to give you a present when she finishes her job checking your teeth”.
- Bring a cheer squad: Remember children view everything new to be much bigger, brighter and louder. Bring a buddy from home so your child feels more at ease. You can even tell them that Teddy Bear needs a dental check up and he would like your child to take them to the dentist.
- Be a good role model: who does your child look up to? You! Show they how you like visiting the dentist (even if you have to pretend), and let them see you brush and floss to take care of your teeth at home. My children copy me flossing because they have seen me using the floss everyday.
- Drop in for a visit: bring your child along for a free social visit. We have purposely made our clinical environment homely and relaxing, so your child can be at ease. We are big on stickers and rewards for good behaviours so kids are always leaving with big smiles on their faces.
At Hearts Dental, we receive kids of all ages every day. We pride ourselves in being a children friendly dental clinic and we are always ready to help. Our staff also all have young children, and some are past child care educators and nannies! If you are not sure how to implement any of the above, give us a call so we can help your little ones take their first steps towards great dental health for life.