It’s no secret that first experiences can lay the foundation for how children respond to similar events in the future. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that having positive dental visits can play a crucial role in their long-term oral health.
At Bell Family Dental PC in Bayside, New York, our team knows firsthand that 60% of people fear the dentist, and it keeps one-third of Americans from getting dental care. That’s why we specialize in children’s dentistry, to make sure their oral health exams start on the right track.
Here are just a few ways you can help your child love going to the dentist.
Teach them to love a healthy smile
Dental exams serve a similar purpose in children as they do in adults. Mainly preventing, diagnosing, and treating oral health issues.
You can help your child appreciate the importance of these visits by giving them real-life examples of the benefits of good dental health and a bright, healthy smile. These messages don’t have to be overly complicated, but just simply sprinkled into everyday conversation, like how oral hygiene:
- Keeps breath smelling fresh
- Reduces your risk of cavities
- Prevents tooth loss, decay, and damage
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is also good for your overall health, reducing inflammation, stabilizing blood sugar, and it’s good for your heart and memory!
Be on your best behavior
Have you ever noticed your child copying things you say or your physical actions? They can take on similar attitudes about their oral health as well. To set the best example, we recommend showing them how much you value a healthy smile and make the process something you can do together. For example, pick out fun toothbrushes or make time to brush your teeth together.
You can also bring your child to each of your dental appointments so they can grow familiar with the process, staff, and entire experience, which can make their own visit less scary.
Listen to their fears
Don’t surprise your child with an unexpected trip to the dentist, talk to them beforehand so they know what to expect. As your child grows older and can better express how they feel, it’s also a great opportunity to talk through their fears without shaming them. Instead, help them understand the process and alleviate their concerns.
Remember, it’s completely normal for anyone to have some butterflies leading up to a dentist appointment, especially young children. However, don’t ignore severe or intense anxiety because it could be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
Ignoring a child’s fears can lead to long-term dental phobias and put their oral health at risk.
Make visits fun!
We know, having your teeth checked probably doesn’t seem like a party, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a reason to celebrate. Giving your child something positive to associate their appointment with can ensure they look forward to every dental visit. This could include planning a special outing to enjoy afterward, like a stop at their favorite park, or getting a special treat, book, or toy.