Of all the parent guidebooks there are in existence and all the well-meaning advice you’ll get regarding raising a child, there is one piece of advice that rings true for a wide variety of situations during their early years – children are the most observant and empathic creatures on the planet! They get all their cues from you and others around them, particularly the unspoken ones. Therefore, the most profound tip for easing your child’s worries about a dental appointment is to not show any anxiety yourself. If you treat this visit like any other errand, it is quite likely that they will too. Here are a few more tips that can help your child enjoy a fun and beneficial dental appointment.
- Begin at Early Age- When your child’s first dental appointment doesn’t involve anything scary, they’ll be more at ease later. Getting your child and dentist acquainted starting before their first birthday for preventative care is a great foundation to a lifetime of anxiety-free appointments.
- Take Them with You for Your Dental Appointment- If you handle dental visits in a positive manner, they’ll pick up on that and be the same, relaxed patient when it is their turn. Of course, if you are a bundle of nerves, refrain from bringing them along.
- Bring a Friend- A close friend who is already comfortable with the dentist can be a great help. Even if their “friend” is a stuffed animal, blanket, or other comfort item, feel free to take that along.
- Discuss Beforehand- Give your child a chance to ask questions about their dental appointment and discuss what to expect so they won’t be thrown off-guard.
- Employ Positive Reinforcement- When a dental appointment has gone well, provide them with a treat of some type and let them know it is because they did so well. Some believe promising this beforehand is beneficial, but that can be problematic if things do not go well. If you give them a treat anyway, you’ve confused them by rewarding undesirable behavior, but if you do not, you have a child who is even more upset by their dental appointment. Some parents choose to forego the reward altogether. You know your child better than anyone, so making this call is a personal decision.
Here at the dental office of Michael S. Spangler, DDS, PA, we make every effort to provide a positive environment and experience for not only children, but adults too! We are committed to making every visit to our Winston-Salem, North Carolina dental center comfortable and beneficial for you and your family. Feel free to call us with any questions you may have.