Do little Logan’s trips to the dentist usually translate to endless toy briberies and loud screaming and kicking in the car? Kids see dental check-ups as a series of terrifying events: they enter a room that reeks of that smell, lie on a chair with tools laid out on a metal tray, dread the arrival of the stranger in white, and shrink from the poking of The Drill in his mouth.
Then again, every parent knows how important it is to keep those tiny teeth in tip-top state, and that skipping dental appointments won’t do any good. Your best bet? Help Logan overcome this dental fear right upfront!
- Positive thinking is imperative, and you can help him achieve this by keeping him prepared for what’s to come: help him understand what will happen, explain why he needs to go, and tell him about how the experience is actually heaps of fun.
- Start them young: The sooner Logan visits a dentist, the sooner he will feel safer. Seeing a familiar face and a recognizable clinic will easily put him at ease. Comfort is essential to dental check-ups, and there really is no easier way to get kids relaxed than to start early.
- Watch your words: Avoid saying “stay calm” or “he won’t hurt you” and don’t tell him that something will sting or be painful—these are trigger words that he may associate with “dentist” right away. Let the dentist work his own language, and feel confident that your child is in good hands.
- Avoid bribery: Promising special treats makes kids imagine negative things about dental check-ups—the act itself suggests that something bad must be waiting in the clinic. Instead, commend Logan for his bravery, and briefly chat about how nice it feels to have a healthy mouth.
- Prepare for some whimpering: Crying or whining during check-ups is nothing new. The best thing to do, though, is to stay cool, trust that the staff knows just how to deal with kids and temper tantrums, and follows their advice the minute your child starts to fuss.
- Bring your kid’s comfort object: Does he sleep with a teddy bear? What about a special blanket? Whatever it is that gives him comfort, allow him to bring it to the clinic.
- Stress the importance of good oral hygiene: Teach your child early on that dental check-ups are a necessity, and that the dentist will care for his pearly whites so they remain strong enough for him to eat. Coupled with a bright attitude, set the stage for what your child must expect to achieve good oral health.
When it comes to dental visits, consistency is key. The earlier Logan starts, the quicker he gets used to the idea. Kids, in general, fear what they don’t understand; and so it’s important to let them warm up to their surroundings and talk to them in the simplest, most positive ways. It’s perfectly normal for children to be fearful, sure, but with these tips, you, as a parent, sure can help little Logan feel sunny and optimistic, and make the next trip to the dentist a pleasant one.
Elaine Jenyns is a writer whose solid professional career includes writing about all things health. She contributes pieces on oral care to Beacon Cove Dental.