Regular dental appointments are a crucial component of maintaining good oral health. As such, it's important that your child develops a positive attitude towards their dentist, and feels comfortable visiting the dental clinic for check-ups and treatments. Here are three steps you can take to help them create positive associations with their visits to the dentist:
Be mindful of your own fears
Many adults are afraid of, or simply dislike going to the dentist. If this is the case for you, it's important not to communicate these opinions and emotions to your child.
Children are very aware of their parents' moods and tend to mimic them; if you become quite tense during their visits to the dental clinic, or if you often use negative words when discussing dental treatments (for example, if you mention how painful or uncomfortable root canal therapy can be), they will notice this and will soon find themselves feeling anxious about their dental appointments.
As such, when taking them to the clinic, try to remain cheerful and relaxed. Additionally, if they require further treatments, make sure to discuss these with them in calm, positive and reassuring manner. If you do this repeatedly, it should help to make your child feel far more at ease both before and during their appointments.
Reward them for attending their dental appointments
If possible, try to arrange for your child to take part in a fun activity (such as an hour at the local playground or a trip to the cinema) or provide them with a small present (such a new colouring book or a small stuffed toy) immediately after their dental appointments.
If they are feeling a bit anxious in the run up to their checkup or treatment, the knowledge that they will receive a reward after their appointment should help to boost their mood and give them something to look forward to.
It will also help them to associate positive experiences with their trips to the dentist which should, in turn, help to alleviate any fears they may have about receiving treatment.
Let them bring one or two comforting items with them to their appointments
Young children often have a blanket, soft toy or book that they cling to when they feel anxious and need comforting. If your child has an item of this kind, it might be wise to let them bring this along with them to their dental appointments.
You should do this, even if your son or daughter doesn't appear to be particularly concerned about an upcoming visit to the dental clinic, as their mood could change quite rapidly when they find themselves sitting in the dentist's chair. In this situation, the presence of their favourite personal possession could make all the difference to how comfortable and calm they feel throughout their appointment.