When taking children to the dentist it can be very stressful for both the children and the parents. From dealing with the fear of the dentist to challenging behavior there is lots to consider before you go and when you get there. Luckily, there are a number of things that you can do to make the whole experience less stressful for both you and your child or children.
The first step ideally occurs as soon as your child is likely to go to their first dental appointment. By making teeth cleaning and visits to the dentist part of the routine of your life it is less likely to be challenged when the time comes to go. By educating your child about the reasons why dental hygiene and visiting the dentist is so important you will encourage them to maintain healthy teeth for life.
Of course, you should practice what you preach and so you must maintain your teeth and visit the dentist regularly too. This is a family routine not just one for children and if you don’t like going to the dentist your children are a great motivation to overcome that anxiety yourself.
It is not uncommon for there to be some waiting time at a dentist surgery whilst you wait for your appointment and therefore it is a good idea to take something for your child to do whilst they wait. Of course, you must ensure that it is a quiet activity so as to not disturb or upset anyone else who is waiting in the surgery.
This serves two purposes – the first is to distract your child from the fact they are visiting the dentist. We all know how you can overthink things when you have too much time on your hands. The second purpose is to amuse them so that they are less likely to demonstrate challenging behavior particularly as most of the time in this situation the behavior would be out of fear or apprehension.
It is important to be honest but sensitive when discussing any dental treatments with children. For the most part the appointment will simply be a clean, check-up and giving out advice to your child about looking after their teeth. In this case you can simply let your child know that the dentist has the equipment to clean their teeth more effectively than you do at home.
However, they should be forewarned of the noise that some dental machinery makes and if anxious be able to hear the noise before the cleaning or other procedure is started. What is going to happen should also be explained as well as the reasons why it is happening. This will help your child make sense of the appointment and lower any anxieties they may have.