Visiting the dentist can be an intimidating experience for a child who has never done it before. This is only natural, as the child has no idea what to expect. While it is important to visit the dentist, not every child does. About 13% of children in the United States do not go to the dentist every year. That number gets even higher once they turn into adults, with 37% of adults skipping out on the dentist some years. That is why it is important to set the tone for the child’s first dental visit.
You want them to know it is okay to go to the dentist. More importantly, it is healthier to go to the dentist regularly. So, how do you show a child that a dental visit is going to be okay? These tips should be able to help you.
Explaining the Process
One thing that you can do to help a child not fear the dentist is to sit down and explain the process. Tell the child what a dentist is going to do and why they do it.
You can mention that this helps them to grow up to be big and strong. You can also say that visiting the dentist regularly helps them keep a great smile.
State the reasons why they are going to the dentist in a way that they understand. Let them know how it benefits them and try to prepare them so they are not caught by surprise when it is time to go to the dentist.
You are familiar with the dentist and have gone to the dentist before, so you know that going to the dentist is perfectly harmless. However, you may forget what it is like to be a child who has never seen a dentist before.
Because of this, it is important to practice empathy in this situation if your child gives you pushback or is scared to go. Try to walk a mile in their shoes and understand why they are resistant to going to the dentist. If you take the time to listen and understand them, it can help you directly address their concerns.
Also, having empathy in this situation can increase a child’s willingness to listen to you and follow you. In the working world, 90% of employees agree that empathetic leadership leads to higher job satisfaction. That means that they are less likely to leave these jobs because of their leader.
Think about being a parent as the leader of your household. In some ways, a kid can fill the role of the employee in this metaphor because they are looking up to you for leadership and guidance. Subconsciously, children also are counting on you to make the best decisions possible for your household.
What this means is that you have to display leadership qualities that allow your child to feel heard while also convincing them that the decision you are making to take them to the dentist is the best thing for them.
Show Them Visuals
If you do not feel like explaining the process is getting through to them, perhaps you will want to try showing them visuals. There are plenty of educational videos and television shows like Sesame Street that have segments about going to the dentist.
Here, they use characters to talk on the children’s level and explain to them why it is good to go to the dentist and to take care of your teeth. They do this in a fun way with visuals that will stick in their memories and keep their attention.
If you want to take visuals a step further, perhaps you can have a practice session with your child. You can pretend to be the patient while showing your child what they should prepare to expect.
This can be anything from the tools that dentists use on your teeth to them having you open your mouth and stick in your fingers to make sure everything is looking good. You can even have a chair that you lay back on with a bright light on near you.
Choose a Pediatric Dentist
If you want to create an even more comfortable environment for your child at the dentist, one thing you may want to think about doing is hiring a pediatric dentist. These dentists work specifically with children.
What this means is that their entire clientele is children, so they should know the ins and outs of what to expect from a child who is afraid of a dentist. These dentists also likely know how to talk to a child on their level, be their friend, and make them feel like they are in a safe place.
This can be the difference between a child getting over their fear of the dentist and being afraid of the dentist for years to come.
Ace Your Child’s First Dental Visit
These are just some of the tips that you can use to make your child’s first dental visit a successful one. You must explain the process of going to the dentist, take that a step further and show them visuals of going to the dentist, and have empathy if they are afraid of the dentist.
Most importantly, you should go to a pediatric dentist to make them feel at ease. Do you need a Thousand Oaks dentist? Message us here with your questions and to schedule an appointment.