Children should start visiting the dentist every six months from the time their first tooth appears. This might sound very young, but there are many benefits to helping your child get used to the sights and sounds of the dentist from a young age.
Dental phobia is common among young children, and this widespread phobia could lead them to develop poor oral hygiene habits as they get older.
Adults are also known to carry phobias from their childhood and associate the dentist with negative memories. The key to ensuring this doesn’t happen is to build up a series of positive interactions at the dentist from a young age.
When children know they have nothing to fear and aren’t in trouble when they go to the dentist, they are far more likely to get through their appointment without a meltdown. So, how do you make a trip to the dentist fun for children? We have a few tips…
Think about the language you use
Using positive language to talk about the dentist can help to take away some of the fear. You don’t have to make a big deal out of the trip, it can simply be one stop on the way to something more fun.
And when you have a chance to talk to your kids about their oral health, don’t make their dentist the villain. It’s common for parents to want to remind their children to brush so that the dentist doesn’t get mad, but this can lead to phobias of the dentist or fear of judgement.
Instead, remind them that they should want to impress the dentist with how well they have brushed.
Don’t share your phobias
If you have a phobia of the dentist, your child might pick up on your discomfort. We can help nervous parents to get over their fear of the dentist so that they don’t pass this on to their children.
Your children will feel more at ease in a new situation if they see that you are relaxed. If you’re struggling with a dental phobia, speak to our reception team to find out how we can help. If you need to get back on track with your appointments, you can book a new patient examination with us.
Plan something fun for after the dentist
A trip to the dentist isn’t a big deal, so try making it a small stop on the way to something way more fun. This could mean heading to their favourite trampoline park or picking out a new toy from the shop.
Try not to link trips to the dentist with unhealthy habits like sweets and chocolate, as this could confuse children who are just learning about keeping their teeth healthy.
Avoid punishment for bad behaviour
If you have promised to take your child somewhere fun after the dentist, make sure this happens regardless of how the dentist visit turns out. Some children have a meltdown at the dentist, but this should never be punished by taking away something they are excited about.
Taking away something fun because of bad behaviour at the dentist will lead your child to associate a trip to the dentist with punishment, and we want to make sure they see it as something positive.
Encourage them to share with the dentist
Bringing something they have made at home can help children feel more excited about going to the dentist. If they have done a drawing or made a model of something, encourage them to bring this to the dentist with them.
They will then see the dentist as someone proud of their accomplishments, and they might even get excited to see the dentist every time.
Ask for help
If you’re struggling to get your child to visit the dentist and are worried about how they will react, call our friendly reception team to find out how we can help.
Your dentist could start the examination in the waiting room while your child is distracted by toys and books. Or they could offer them a tour of the dentist’s office so that they don’t feel afraid of all the new sights, sounds and smells. If you’re struggling to get your child excited about the dentist, speak to our team about how we can help.