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The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools estimates that children have lost over 51 million school hours due to a dental-related illness. For many kids, the trip to the pediatric dentist can be nerve-wracking and stressful. In fact, approximately 20% of young children fear going to their dentist. If not handled early enough, the dental fear and anxiety may have significant negative short and long-term effects on their oral health.
Most children experience fear and anxiety when meeting new strangers, especially if the strangers will be poking and sticking tools in their mouths. The stress may get the best of them, making them miss even basic dental care checkups. Here are five tips to change your kid’s perception about their experience at the dental office.
Taking your child to a sterile, adult dental office can be intimidating and give the wrong impression. Consider taking your child to a pediatric dentistry practice where the environment is kid-friendly. Pediatric dentists are specially trained to work with kids from infancy to their late teens. The staff at childrens dentist offices know how to properly and slowly make your kid comfortable. With experience, we have noticed that the bright colors, themed walls, and toys can make your child’s experience less tense.
The earlier that you take your child to a Fun Kids’ dentist, the better it may be for them. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends taking your kid to their first appointment with six months of their first tooth appearing and no later than their first birthday. Making regular trips to the pediatric dental office can make it part of their healthcare routine. Your child will grow comfortable with biannual dental checkups and has more appreciation for their dental care as adults.
You may have a nervous or shy child that may be afraid of meeting new people. A quick drop-in at the office can help you make a comfortable introduction of the dentist and the space. It may help break the ice and help start a relationship with the pedodontist and the staff before coming in for cleaning or filing.
You can also speak to your child about the importance of good dental hygiene. Emphasize that part of proper oral care practices means regular visits to the dentist. You may need to be careful of the language that you use to explain a future visit. Avoid words such as “pain,” “drill,” “shot”, as they can be intimidating to your child, creating a negative perception of the visits.
If your child is still fearful of the dental visit, you can try to use a positive reward system to entice them. A visit to the park or the movies after seeing the dentist could be a good motivator. As they grow, they may realize the importance of the visits, and the rewards may not be necessary anymore.
Dental fear and anxiety are serious issues that can prevent your child from keeping the necessary oral health care that they need. At Fun Smiles Clinic, we place significant emphasis on your kid’s comfort during their appointment. Reach out to us to book your first appointment today.