If you can’t quite remember how scary you found a dental visit when you were young, you could underestimate how much trepidation your child might feel about their first visit. Maybe they cry about the prospect or throw temper tantrums.
As failing to suitably and sensitively address the issue could make that visit much more arduous than necessary, here are several things you can do to help put your child’s concerns at rest.
Schedule the first visit early
Lying back on a reclining chair, with a strange, ominous-looking light shining above and a stranger stood there with weird-looking metal instruments at close hand, could feel nightmarish for children who aren’t used to the experience.
That’s why, the earlier you get your child to a dentist, the better. The Parents website advises that the child attends their first dental appointment at a year old, once the first tooth has emerged.
Don’t overcomplicate your explanation
Once you’ve booked the appointment, how should you go about breaking the news to your child? Basically, you should be wary of going into excessive detail, especially of the gruesome kind. All the same, though, you shouldn’t go as far as insisting that “everything will be fine”.
Saying this would be risky because you can’t be certain whether your child will actually need treatment. If they do, this situation could blunt their trust in you.
Be careful what words you use
“Fine” isn’t the only word that can be dangerous in the context of a discussion about a child’s upcoming dental visit. Other words capable of a similar impact include “shot”, “hurt” and “pain”. Neither should you inform your child of an unpleasant experience you have suffered due to a dentist.
You could go for more innocuous language, such as telling your little one that the dentist will look for “sugar bugs” to clean off the teeth. See how a simple change of language produces a cuter image?
Don’t bribe your child
This means not saying something along the lines of “If you don’t cry or make a fuss at the dentist, you’ll get a sweet.” This could inadvertently strike fear in the child, as your words would suggest that something at the dentist might genuinely be scary enough to cause them to cry or make a fuss.
Besides, offering a sweet would run counter to the dentist’s own advice that sugary sweets for your child are kept to a minimum in order to help protect the condition of their teeth.
Encourage your child to look after their oral hygiene
This has multiple crucial benefits. One is that it teaches the child that the dental appointment is necessary rather than simply a good idea. Another benefit is that, of course, it can help to keep dental issues at bay and so give your child less to worry about in the first place.
WebMD outlines how a dentist should handle sensitive children and, hence, what you should seek in a professional such as a dentist in a London area like Balham or Clapham.