It’s become a bit of a stock trope these days in media of all kinds that children and dentists do not mix. Perhaps it’s the misconception that a dental visit always means a painful examination or the idea that the dentist is going to tell your parents to “take away” all your favorite snack and junk foods. What’s ironic about this is that you don’t hear nearly as much negativity directed towards doctors, while dentists play a similar role in helping make sure your body is in good health and keeping an eye on potential issues that could arise. For this reason, you want to make sure you establish a good association early on with your dentist.
A good thing to do, especially before your child sees the dentist for the first time, is give them a basic rundown of what is going to take place. According to the experts at Total Dentistry in Cincinnati, here’s what you can expect. “The first step in the dentist/patient relationship is an examination. It’s how the dentist gets to know you, learn about the goals you have for your mouth, and determines the health of your mouth.”
As he continues, a general examination process starts with covering overall health, like looking at not just the teeth, but also the tissues, jaw, gums and bite. This allows a chance to catch any precursors to other issues or bad habits in action.
Now granted, you’re not going to be able to give an explanation like this verbatim to a child, especially around age one or two when the first tooth erupts in the mouth. The good side of this is that generally, your child’s first visit to the dentist around this age is going to reinforce the basic explanation you give them. This initial visit allows the child to get familiar with the staff and the tools at the dentist’s office in a comfortable way. Your dentist may also do a quick examination to look for things like bottle caries or things that can lead to speech issues, but the bulk of the examination is going to be getting your child familiar with the dentist and the basics of oral hygiene.
A good thing you can do in order to make sure those basics are adhered to is make sure that you’re supporting good oral health habits at home. Not only is this good for the child in general, but it helps reinforce the idea that your dentist is someone worth listening to. A good place to start is to make sure that when you are brushing, you’re doing so around the child. Depending on the child’s age, you may be either doing the brushing for them or watching over them to make sure they do it properly. Age 7 is generally the turning point. Make sure that they are performing proper brushing form, and be sure to implement different practices like brushing your tongue or flossing as well.
Now, at this point, you may be wondering what exactly to do if you’re dealing with a child who’s already got anxiety about the dentist and needs some added help building up that positivity. One good thing to try to do, especially with younger children, is to try and use distraction to your benefits, whether you want to use your tablet or something similar to occupy them while the dentist does their work. In some cases, you may even need to go to the extreme and look up sedation dentistry as an option. Ideally, you won’t need to turn to this, but if it seems like it is necessary, have a long talk with your dentist to determine what type of sedation is the best fit.
Another thing to do, or not do, is revisit the classic adage that their dentist trip “won’t hurt.” Yes, this is factual, but your child’s mind is going to focus in on the word hurt. Best to leave that verbiage out entirely and focus on all the benefits they are getting.There are other bad habits you don’t want to fall into when it comes to handling your child and the dentist. One perfect example is bribery. When you’ve had a long day at work and just want your child to cooperate, it’s easy to tempt them with a snack or toy or some other benefit for going to the dentist. The issue here is that all you’re going is, in essence, rewarding them for being difficult. You certainly don’t want to spill this over into other areas.
Article Submitted By Community Writer