For every parent, attempting to make the dentist at least that little bit less terrifying for kids represents a difficult and on-going challenge. Nevertheless, it’s a challenge that must be met – lest those involved wish to suffer the consequences.
The thing is, it typically isn’t until later life that people begin having ‘reservations’ about dentists. Kids from the earliest age tend to be relatively fearless. That is, unless they have a nasty experience at the dentist, or simply take a disliking to the whole thing from day one.
In which case, the challenge begins!
But as far as the experts are concerned, there are plenty of ways and means by which visits to the dentists can actually be made fun for kids. Not just bearable, but the kinds of appointments they actually look forward to.
Too good to be true? Not necessarily – try your hand with any of the following and you might just find all future trips to the dentist surprisingly close to enjoyable:
- Choose Your Dentist Wisely
Make no mistake about it – not all dentists are what you would call ‘adept’ when it comes to working with children. In fact, there are many who are downright terrifying to adults, let alone their kids! There is a huge difference between a dentist who specialises in treating young patients and another who sees awkward kids as a chore. If you aren’t 100% convinced in the capabilities and attitude of your current dentist, you’re perfectly within your rights to head elsewhere. These days, more dentists than ever before are sensitive to the fears of adults and kids alike – it simply makes sense to make your choice proactively.
- Adjust Your Own Attitude
How can you expect your kids not to be afraid of the dentist if you yourself are terrified of the whole thing? Just to get one thing straight – we’re not suggesting for one minute that adults with longstanding dental phobias can simply turn them on and off on command. Nevertheless, if thinking about or going to the dentist’s surgery is the kind of thing that sends you into a state of deep anxiety, your kids are definitely going to pick up on this. So it’s instead a case of doing your best to swallow your pride and make the best of it. Which also means avoiding phrases such as “I hate the dentist” or “I know dentists are scary” or absolutely anything that includes words like “pain”. Go overboard if necessary – pretend you absolutely love the place!
- Special Clothes or Costumes
It’s an interesting approach to combating fear of the dentist, though perhaps one that isn’t going to work particularly well for adults. Let’s put it this way – if these are the only occasions where your kid is allowed to wear a superman costume or dress up like a Disney princess, how can they see the dentist as anything other than fun? Not only this, but the way in which special clothes and costumes can give adults and children alike an extra dose of courage when needed most is quite remarkable. If you’ve made the right decision when choosing your dentist, you should have no trouble getting them to play along with the whole thing from start to finish.
- Make Oral Hygiene Fun
When kids cannot stand brushing their teeth and taking care of oral hygiene in general, you can’t realistically expect them to delight at the thought of dentists. After all, the dentist is no less than the ‘King’ of oral hygiene. Which is precisely why it can be a good idea to make oral hygiene in general as enjoyable for your kids as possible. This could mean investing in the best Disney electric toothbrush money can buy, using high quality kids’ toothpaste they won’t hate the taste of and even getting them into good flossing habits from the earliest possible stage. If they begin to take an active interest in oral hygiene in general, there’s a good chance they’ll develop more of an interest in visits to the dentist. If not, chances are they will at least see it as something a little less terrifying.
- Rewards and Praise
There’s a fine line to be aware of when it comes to rewards and praise. The problem being that if you go overboard in terms of praising kids’ bravery, they eventually begin to wonder why bravery was necessary. The answer being that they’ve been exposed to something scary and/or unpleasant. Instead therefore, it is better to build a routine whereby visits to the dentist are naturally and instinctively rewarded in one way or another. Perhaps every time you take your kids to the dentist, you then head straight to their favourite burger joint. Or maybe a toy shop to pick up something they’ve had their eye on for a while. This way, it is more likely that your kids will focus on the positive aspects of each dental visit, rather than the potential negatives.
- Focus On the Positives
Last but not least, every kid wants to grow up to be as big and strong as possible. Which is why it’s a good idea to motivate good oral health and hygiene habits by focusing on the positive advantages for the future. Keep your kids aware at all times that the secret to a beautiful bright and strong smile for life lies in regular care and attention – including visits to the dentist. Or in other words, they’re going to see the dentist 100% for positive reasons, not for anything negative or scary. The earlier you can bring your kids round to this way of thinking, the better!
If in doubt, you need only get in touch with your dentist personally prior to an upcoming visit, for more help and support on how to reassure nervous kids. Just try to remember that even if you yourself were downright terrified of dentists as a child, standards have come a seriously long way over recent years and decades!