Parents often worry how they can ease their’s child’s fears of upcoming dental visits and procedures. When it comes to your child’s first dental procedure, it’s important to keep a calm and clear head and not project any negative experiences you may have had when you were younger. Here are a few tools to use in your parenting toolbox to help make your child’s dental care experiences and procedures positive.
Tool #1 – Validation
Your child’s fears are real, it is important that they hear that you understand that they are scared and that you don’t diminish their feelings. It is also important to explain the procedure’s benefits. You can say things like “Imagine how pretty your tooth will look after the dentist fills your cavity.”
Tool #2 – Advanced Warning
No child, or even adults like feeling tricked or surprised when visiting the dentist. Not letting them know in advance what to expect can have negative implications and they can fear future visits to the dental office. Give just enough information so that your child knows what to expect.
Tool #3 – Play
Another great way to prepare for an upcoming procedure at the dentist is to do some arts and crafts or role-plays. This allows your child to play the dentist. Creating fun activities about their upcoming dental visit helps your child experience it in a fun and active way. For instance, you could pull out some Play-Doh and work together to create a mouth of teeth that need fillings. You and your child can take turns clearing out the cavity, then filling in the tooth. Children love to explore and learn through play, they will likely ask lots of questions so keep it light and focus on creating positive feelings around what they can expect.
Tool #4 – Magic Gel
Let your child know that the dentist has a magic gel that they put on their gum before freezing so it makes freezing more comfortable. And explain that freezing is also magic to allow the dentist to work on their teeth comfortably.
Tool #5 – Try the Cough or Tapping Trick
There have been studies that show giving a moderate cough right before the freezing injection causes enough of a distraction that the needle pain was reduced considerably. Also tapping on the child’s hand or opposite shoulder can also create a distraction.
Tool #7 – TV
Many dental offices are now equipped with a television or monitor to allow children to watch their favourite cartoons while the dentist does their magic. If you feel your child needs that distraction it is great to have a show playing before they get comfortable in the dental chair.
Tool #8 – Have a reward ready!
Who doesn’t love a reward, and this occasion definitely calls for one! Often times the dentist’s office will have a sticker or small prize waiting for after they finish, but it never hurts to dangle that special surprise for his or her bravery. We also encourage you as parents to reward yourselves as well, you deserve it! We know this is not easy for you also.
These parenting moments can be a big challenge, but your child will find comfort in knowing that they are being heard and have a clear plan on how to get through this with your help and support. You will also help create a more positive experience when it comes to their dental care that can last a lifetime.
Have questions or want to book an appointment? We would be happy to connect.