Tips for Making Your Child's Dental Visit Positive

Good dental care is an important part of helping your child stay healthy and comfortable. That includes preventive care, like cleanings and checkups, as well as visits for “fixing” issues like cavities or chipped teeth. The problem is, dentist visits don’t typically conjure up feelings of happiness and joy, especially in kids. Even if your child isn’t exactly fearful about seeing the dentist, they might still have a lot of negative feelings about routine dental care — and that can keep them from getting the treatments they need all the way through their adult years, too. 

The good news is, as a parent, you can help your child feel more positive about dental visits and about their oral health in general. Arya Dental is here to help with some simple tips you can use to help your child get comfortable with dental care, so you can set them up for a lifetime of beautiful, healthy smiles.

Start regular visits at an early age

As adults, we know it takes time to build habits. You can help your child accept regular dental checkups as part of their normal routine by starting the habit early — ideally before their first birthday — and making sure they stick to the twice-yearly regimen. Making regular dental visits a habit in childhood means your child can enjoy a healthier smile and avoid developmental pitfalls that can result in serious oral health issues as they grow. Plus, it sets the stage for better oral health during their adult years, too.

Don’t “telegraph” your own anxiety

Dental anxiety isn’t just for kids. Plenty of adults worry about seeing the dentist, too. In fact, data shows that as many as 16 percent of adults fear the dentist — and for patients with a history of dental problems, that number can be as high as 83 percent! If you deal with your own dental anxiety, it’s really important not to show signs in front of your children. Don’t talk about past dental visits, painful drilling, needles, shots, or anything that might make your child nervous. Instead, keep your comments positive and focus on how regular dental visits help maintain beautiful, healthy smiles.

Keep it casual

Ideally, you want your child to continue their good oral health habits — including regular dental checkups — throughout their lives, so treat visits as normal events. Mention the visit casually ahead of time — don’t spring it on your child at the last minute. But don’t make a big deal out of it, either. It’s fine to plan an outing afterward — maybe a visit to a local park to unwind if your child is especially anxious. Just keep the visit as routine as possible so your child views it as part of their regular activities.

Aim for morning visits

Morning hours are when your child is most rested, and that means they’re more likely to be cooperative and less likely to be cranky and anxious. Plus, if your child is nervous about seeing the dentist, to begin with, having a visit in the morning means your child can enjoy the rest of the day without anxiety.

Let them see you visiting the dentist regularly

Just as your child can sense your own dental anxiety, they’ll also notice when your actions don’t match your words. Set a good example for your children by visiting your own dentist twice a year for checkups, and demonstrate other good oral health habits, too — like regular brushing and flossing and choosing healthy snacks. And let them know — without scary language — how dental visits play an important role in maintaining a healthy, friendly-looking smile.

Never use the dentist as a threat 

Giving up sugary snacks in favor of healthy alternatives isn’t always easy. And it might be tempting to talk about cavities and fillings as a way to “scare” your child into better habits. But doing so can wind up backfiring on you in the long run. Talking about dental care in a negative way can make dental visits seem more like punishment, and it also portrays the dentist as someone who’s waiting to “hurt” them rather than help them. Instead, look for ways to make healthy foods more appealing and don’t keep sugary foods in the house.

If your child is anxious, let us know!

Our practice is focused on kids, and that means we understand the concerns and worries kids (and their parents) may have about dental visits. Our entire team is committed to making the visit a pleasant one, so your child accepts routine dental visits as part of their lifetime health routine. If your child is nervous about their visit, let us know and we can take extra steps to keep them calm and relaxed. 

Your child may never learn to love dental visits — but with a little help from you, they can certainly come to accept them as part of their regular care routine. Just a little time invested now can help your child enjoy healthier teeth and gums now and through their adult years. To learn more about the kid-friendly care we provide or to schedule an appointment at Arya Dental, give us a call at 714-646-9546 today.

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