Fear of the dentist can turn an average checkup into a nightmare for a child, a hardship for the dentist, and an embarrassment for the parents. One of the best ways to prevent that before it ever starts is to take your child in to see the dentist early.
The AAPD recommends that you bring your child to see a dentist when the very first tooth sprouts. Otherwise, you should bring your child in before his or her first birthday. The AGD also recommends doing it before the first birthday, or six months after the first tooth comes in.
By contrast, many parents avoid taking their child to the dentist for far longer periods of time. If you wait too long, your child may come to fear seeing the dentist at all. This is especially true for children that have reached an age where they see or hear many of the misconceptions associated with a dental visit.
Their favorite show may have a character expressing dismay at the need to see a dentist. They may overhear someone talking about the pain associated with some dental procedures. This will create anxiety in your child. That's why it's important to get them to a dentist early.
How Early Visits Dispel Later Fears
Early visits won't involve much as far as actual care-- no x-rays or cleanings. They're more for you to acquaint you child with the dentist and ask questions about routine care. These visits tend towards the casual and comfortable.
As time goes by, your child may not even remember the visit, but he or she will have the familiarity with the dentist's office and chair. When the dentist's office is a familiar place, with no associations to pain or fear, then the odds of your child having anxiety are far less.
If You Waited Too Long
If you bypassed early visits, there's no time like the present to set up an appointment with a pediatric dentist for your child. If your child is showing any signs of anxiety or fear, here are a few things you can do to help ease them into the idea of seeing the dentist.
Talk about it – Talk about the visit, let your child know that you too go to see the dentist. However, avoid any negative words when talking about the dentist or dental procedures. Stay positive, and stress how important it is.
Act it out – Play dentist with your child. Have fun with it. You can set up a chair and pretend to study your child's teeth and let them know that everything looks fine. This can work as a good lead in to the actual dentist visit.
Read about it – There are many children's books dedicated to dentist visits and the importance of taking care of teeth. Consider reading some of these types of books with your child to help them understand a little of what's going on.
And don't worry. Sometimes, some fear and anxiety are unavoidable. Trust your pediatric dentist to know how to deal with fear, sudden tantrums, or agitation. Remember, he or she is a professional, and will have techniques for dealing with such things at their disposal. For more information, talk to a place like Children's Dental Center Of Central Iowa PLC.Share