Between the scary medical instruments, a giant light looming overhead, and the threat of a potential cavity, visiting the dentist can feel scary, especially for children. At your local Lexington pediatric dentistry practice, however, it doesn’t have to be! In fact, visiting your children’s dentist can and should be a fun experience for your child.
Here are a few tips you can use to make dental visits for kids exciting and scare-free. These tips can help you encourage your child’s healthy dental routine. Otherwise, their growing dental anxiety could keep them from seeking care as an adult. So, set your child up for success and a healthy smile today!
Start When They’re Young
Schedule their first visit to a children’s dentist by your child’s first birthday or within six months of their first tooth erupting. During this first appointment, the dentist will examine your child’s teeth, gums, bite, jaws, and tissues. They’ll make sure everything is developing as intended.
They may also recommend a gentle teeth cleaning. A hygienist can remove plaque, tartar, and stains from your child’s teeth.
If your child is old enough, the dentist can review proper children’s teeth brushing techniques. They’ll help you develop a healthy dental routine to reduce the risk of tooth decay. With at-home preventive dentistry practices, you can keep your kid’s teeth clean and healthy.
Enforcing these healthy habits from a young age can help your child avoid major oral health issues. Otherwise, the treatments for cavities and gum disease could make their dental anxiety worse.
Play Dentist at Home
Prepare for future dental visits for kids by playing dentist at home. Playing pretend will help your child learn what to expect from dental visits. You can keep the fear of the unknown from causing dental anxiety.
Have your child lean back in a chair. Examine their teeth and let them know if you notice plaque. Instruct them on how to improve their dental hygiene routine and show them how to correctly brush your teeth.
Then, swap places! Allow your child to look at your teeth.
Most children get nervous at the dentist’s office because they’re in unfamiliar territory. Playing dentist at home will help them feel calm about the situation before they visit a Lexington pediatric dentist.
You can also help your child learn what to expect during appointments by playing fun videos or reading related books.
Make the Trip Fun
Look for ways to make the drive to the office fun. Getting your child excited during the car ride over can ease their dental anxiety.
For example, you can talk in a positive tone, play music they love, or have a little dance party in the car.
Try to schedule their appointment before rush hour traffic. If you’re stressed about arriving on time, your child may pick up on it. They’ll mimic your behavior, leaving both of you anxious.
Schedule a Tour
Before your child’s trip to a dentist office, consider scheduling a tour. Touring the office will give your child the chance to get familiar with the practice. They’ll feel more at ease during their official appointment.
Call ahead of time and ask if your child can meet their pediatric dentist or hygienist. They’ll feel more comfortable knowing they’ll receive treatment from someone familiar.
Consider bringing a familiar toy, book, or blanket to your child’s appointment. These tools can keep your child occupied. A familiar belonging can put them at ease while their dentist gets to work.
You can also make their distraction a surprise. Consider presenting them with a new toy or stuffed animal right before the appointment.
Try rewarding their good behavior after the appointment. For example, you can treat them to a movie or make their favorite meal. Positive reinforcement could encourage your child to behave during future appointments.
Give Them Control
Allow your child to feel somewhat in control of the situation. Giving them choices can help them feel less anxious, especially in unfamiliar settings. There are plenty of opportunities for them to make their own choices during dental visits.
For example, the dentist will allow your child to choose the flavor of toothpaste they want during their teeth cleaning. They can also choose what TV show or movie they want to watch.
Try to avoid stepping in to make these choices on your child’s behalf.
Create a Report Card
Some children feel motivated by smiley face stickers and gold stars. Creating a dental report card can reinforce their good behavior. It’s also an effective way to get them excited about future trips to the dentist.
You can show your child their blank report card before you go. Let them know what you expect and how they can earn stickers based on good behavior.
Create a report card to use at home. You can encourage them to maintain a healthy dental routine between appointments.
Talk to the Dentist
Schedule an appointment with your Lexington children’s dentist office before your child’s cleaning. Let them know you’re worried about your child’s dental anxiety. The dentist can provide helpful dental tips and solutions.
For example, they may recommend sedation dentistry if your child has severe anxiety.
The dentist can also help you recognize which strategies to avoid. Do your best to avoid using negative words like “cavity” or “pain.” You don’t want your child associating negative feelings with dental visits.
Avoid resorting to bribery, which could make dental visits seem like something negative that they need to endure. Instead, create a positive association after the appointment with casual rewards.
Make Lexington Pediatric Dentistry Fun
Pediatric dentistries do not have to feel daunting for you or your child. Instead, use these tips to make dental visits for kids fun. With these strategies, you can ease your child’s anxiety about going to the dentist.
Visiting the best children’s dentist in Lexington can make all the difference. An experienced dentist will know how to put your child at ease. At Dentistry for Children, in Lexington, we’re committed to providing exceptional dental care in an efficient and comforting manner.
Contact us to schedule your child’s next appointment.