Toddlers are already finicky about, well, just about everything. But the dentist can be a particularly difficult challenge for parents who are dealing with a worried or frightened child unaware of why some strangers are trying to put odd implements into his or her mouth.
This worry can quickly lead to panic and that usually results in a hysterical and poorly behaved toddler screaming and squirming in the dentist’s chair. The greater concern here is that creating an unpleasant and stressful first impression about seeing the dentist can carry on well into their teenage years.
Children shouldn’t dread going to the dentist and they don’t have to, as long as you take some important steps towards helping them cope with their fears and insecurities. Here are some helpful hints for maintaining calm when it’s time to bring your little one to get his or her teeth checked out.
Take it Slow and Gentle
One of the biggest mistakes that parents sometimes make with taking their young children to the dentist is that they often take the child to the wrong type of dentist. Keeping children calm during a dental appointment often hinges upon the type of environment they find themselves in.
That’s why a pediatric dentist is the best option for toddlers. These types of dental professionals are far better equipped to deal with the specific needs of young children by offering a friendly, familiar, and inviting atmosphere.
To that end, a pediatric dentist also has a greater skill set for understanding the apprehension and nervousness that young children usually have at the dentist’s office. This is crucial for helping to minimize the possibility of your child becoming terrified every time you take him or her in for an appointment.
General dentists are going to take care to assuage a child’s concerns but these offices are designed for all ages, this can be scary for the youngest children who will feel a lot more at ease with bright colors and cartoon characters surrounding them.
Pediatric dentists also have special tools and toys for children to play with while they are in the dentist’s chair. General dentists typically do not.
Prepare Your Toddler First
Another mistake many parents make is springing a visit to the dentist on their child. But this is only going to cause more harm than good and while keeping that information secret to avoid the inevitable crying and protestations that are bound to come, those can be somewhat reduced by the time you arrive at the office.
Having your child discover where he or she is going will only spark that animosity when you walk into the front lobby. Then you’re dealing with the consequences in the office.
But you can likely dodge most of these issues by having a talk with your child well before you’re set to leave and explain how the dentist’s office is nothing to fear and no one is going to hurt your child.
You may even try to make it a fun event by offering some kind of reward after the appointment is over. Sure, it may seem like you’re bribing your toddler not to have a tantrum, but the promises you make don’t need to be material in nature. Perhaps it’s a visit to their favorite place or an opportunity to do something that is reserved for special occasions.
The point is to make this a pleasant occurrence not something that needs to be feared or avoided at all costs. Calm their fears before you go, so you don’t inspire more fears when they arrive.
Arriving for the Appointment
The best family dentist will offer to give your child a tour of the offices. This is a very effective way to instill calm in your toddler as it can remove some of the fear of the unknown. Dentist offices are full of potentially intimidating sights and sounds with all of the many weird looking instruments and equipment located throughout.
In order to quell the uncertainty in your child has one of the hygienists show you around the office and explain the purpose and operation of each of the major pieces of equipment that will be used during the visit.
Foster their curiosity and willingness to explore the office.
Once the child’s in the chair allow the dentist and technicians to be in control and refrain from questioning their decisions and authority during the check-up. If you are worried or concerned, your child will pick up on it immediately, most likely sending him or her into a panic. So always remain calm and that will keep your child calm as well.