A trip to the pediatric dentist should be a positive experience for a child. Start by explaining to your child that dentists are community helpers that work keep them strong and healthy. Children often talk about community helpers in preschool and early elementary school and know these are safe people they can trust. Here are some other tips for building a positive relationship between children and dentists.
A Dentist's Office for Children
Pediatric dental offices typically offer an environment designed to make children comfortable. Rooms may be decorated with bright colors, animals, or fun designs. Waiting rooms often feature a variety of toys. They may even have activity tables or video game consoles available. A fun environment makes the dentist's office a treat for children to visit. They will remain patient and entertained until it's their turn and may even beg to return sooner than needed so they can play more.
Preparing for a Visit
Take your child to the office for a visit before the appointment. This is especially important before their first visit, but the reminder can also help put children at ease who have been to the practice before. Point the office out when you drive by. Say, "Oh, look! There's Dr. Berry's office. Remember playing a video game there before you got your teeth cleaned last time? We'll do that again next time."
Read books that feature characters going to the dentist in the weeks before your child's appointment. Watch videos of dental procedures with older children so they know what to expect. Take time to prepare children before the appointment instead of dropping the news on them at the last minute.
Children only see dentist twice a year in most cases. Talking about the dentist frequently keeps the experience fresh in their mind. This way it stays a familiar and comfortable, experience from visit to visit.
Access Your Own Feelings
Ask yourself how you feel about the dentist. If you have a phobia, you don't want your child to pick up on it. The most important thing you can do to help children feel comfortable at the dentist is to control your own fears, stay calm, and present a positive attitude. This is especially important during a child's first visit. If you're anxious and scared, it's possible that you'll transfer those feelings to your child - even without meaning to. Embrace the saying, "fake it until you make it."