How to Make Dental Visits Easier for Your Kids
And the home part easier on you!
Visiting the dentist with your kids for the first time (or if we are being honest, even the 10th time) can be stressful. It’s hard to predict how our kids may react. It’s no surprise given that dental anxiety impacts over 36% of the population — including adults!
The good news is there are ways to make the visit go more smoothly with a little prep work. Here’s what you can do before, during and after your child's dentist appointment.
Establish The Dental Home
Much of the fear comes from not knowing what to expect at the dentist, so spend some time establishing that a day or two before you head into the office.
"Have them watch someone familiar, like Daniel Tiger, go to the dentist to help ease some of those fears, too," he says.
Finally, talk through some of what they might see. "To get them to open their mouth really wide, have them roar like a dinosaur," he suggests.
The goal is to make them see the visit as fun, not as anxiety-provoking.
Calm Yourself Down
If you are one of those adults that freaks at the sight of a dentist, try to put that aside. Kids will often model your behavior so get it in check! If they have an older sibling who likes the dentist and keeps a calm demeanor, it may be helpful to schedule their appointments back-to-back.
"If they see the good behavior they will tend to mirror it," says Dr. Felline.
Trust Your Dentist
If you take your kid to a pediatric dentist, know that they have extra training (two years!) to deal with the smaller set.
"Remember we have lots of techniques to help them keep your kids calm," says Dr. Felline. "Things that distract them like talking to them about their day, favorite superheroes and school."
Continue the Work at Home
Yes, sometimes helping your kids brushing their teeth can be dreadful but it’ll pay off in the long run by making their dental visits easier.
Make sure your kids are brushing two times a day for two minutes each. Using an egg timer or timed toothbrush can help.
"It’s recommended to help kids with brushing until they are seven or eight years old," he says.
An electric toothbrush may help kids brush better and it will get them used to the sensation they will feel at the dentist, too.
And reduce the sugar where you can. We know kids love sweets but when it comes to juice, dentists recommend skipping it, and if you can’t, at the very least, dilute it with water.
At the end of the day, just do your best. If your kid is having a really hard time, consult your dentist and they will help you strategize. They are here to partner with you!