PARENTS CAN DO a lot to help their child come into the dentist’s office feeling relaxed and positive. (We’ll take things from there.)
1. Start early. As soon as a child has teeth, they can benefit from dental care, and the earlier they see the dentist, the easier it is to build a trusting relationship.
2. Play pretend to explain what will happen if the child is very young. Parents can take the role of the dentist and help them see the experience as fun and interesting rather than scary.
3. For older children, a basic explanation will go a long way. Talk about visiting the dentist as something very normal and important for their teeth rather than leaving it as a mystery.
4. Make dental hygiene a priority. Kids who already know how much brushing and flossing matter will have an easier time appreciating the dentist.
5. Schedule a time to meet the dentist before the appointment. If the dentist isn’t a stranger on check-up day, the experience will be much less stressful. The same goes for the unfamiliar environment of the dental office.
6. Be there for support. No amount of information can replace the reassuring presence of a loved and trusted adult. Stay close by in early visits to offer encouragement and help them feel safe.