Does your child have dental anxiety? While it’s normal and expected for young children to feel apprehensive, it’ll be up to you and your child’s pediatric dentist to set a good first impression.
Our pediatric dentists in Grand Rapids, MI have years of experience treating children and are here to offer their professional tips for .
1. Set a Precedent
Your child should have their first dentist appointment once they get their first baby tooth and no later than their first birthday. The sooner your child sees the dentist, the more comfortable they’ll feel receiving pediatric dental care.
When you set a precedent of seeing the pediatric dentist every 6 months, your child will learn to accept that dentist appointments are needed to maintain a healthy smile. You can also help them make the connection that taking good care of their teeth is needed to continue eating their favorite foods.
2. Emphasize the Positive
While children have short attention spans, you can count on them remembering words like “shot” or “pain.” We recommend talking to your child before their appointment so they know what to expect and don’t use words that could scare them. For example, there’s no reason to go into detail about fillings since your child may not even need them.
If this is your child’s first appointment, we recommend saying that the dentist needs to examine their smile and count their teeth. That way, you’ll be able to frame their first dentist appointment positively without going into unnecessary detail.
3. Play Make Believe
Children often play make-believe to understand the world around them. Before with their pediatric dentist, it may help to act out how the dentist might examine their teeth.
Keep the session simple by using a toothbrush to count their teeth and avoid negative words or drilling sounds that could scare them. Switch roles with your child so they have the chance to play dentist.
4. See a Pediatric Dentist
Unlike general dentists, a pediatric dentist has had additional training after dental school to treat babies, children, teenagers, and those with special needs. A pediatric dentist also understands the importance of creating a welcoming kid-friendly environment as soon as their young patients walk through the door. Pediatric dentists often have games or children’s books in the waiting room to help your child feel more at ease.
5. Expect Some Fussing
It’s perfectly normal for young children to meltdown when they’re taken to a new environment and examined by a stranger. Fortunately, our pediatric dentists and their team have dealt with their fair share of tantrums and will work with you to help your child calm down.
We want to make sure your child has a positive experience in our office so they won’t feel dental anxiety during future appointments.
6. Opt for Sedation Dentistry
Sedation dentistry is a safe way to help your child stay calm throughout their dental appointment. The most common form of this is laughing gas. Your child will breathe it in through a mask placed over their nose and it will take effect soon after. The effects wear off soon after the mask is removed.
There are other options such as oral sedation and general anesthesia, but it is always best to ask your child’s pediatric dentist which would be best for them depending on their level of dental anxiety.
Schedule an Appointment
Our pediatric dentists can help your child overcome dental anxiety so they can maintain a healthy smile. To schedule your child’s appointment with our Grand Rapids pediatric dentists, call (616) 942-9840.
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This blog post has been updated.