When kids visit the dentist, they often feel afraid. This is typically due to the association between dentists and pain. Kids are nervous that during their checkup they will experience discomfort. Bringing a child to the dentist when they are afraid can lead to tantrums, poor behavior, and adamant refusal to go in. The following five tips will help your child learn to appreciate the dentist and take better care of their teeth. 

Find a Good Dentist

Finding a good dentist is the best way to help your child enjoy dental checkups. You might try to find a dentist with a fun waiting room or someone who has experience with children. At Family Dental Health Center, we love working with kids and teaching them the importance of a healthy smile. If your child doesn’t like going to the dentist, consider switching who you visit. 

Start Early

Most dentists recommend taking your child to see the dentist before their first birthday. Visiting the dentist while your child is still young helps you and the dentist identify any potential issues early on and it will help your child become accustomed to dental visits. Early visits to the dentist will make biannual checkups feel normal for children. Besides visiting the dentist, you should start teaching your children about the importance of brushing and flossing their teeth early so they develop habits of good hygiene. 

Play Dentist at Home

For smaller children, it can be fun to play pretend dentist at home. You can use stuffed animals as patients and pretend to brush their teeth with an extra toothbrush and teach the animals the importance of flossing and eating healthy food. This fun experience allows children to act as the dentist and empowers them to not feel afraid of the dentist. Some children’s television shows, like Daniel the Tiger and Peppa Pig, have episodes that teach kids what they can expect from visiting the dentist that your child might also enjoy. 

Stay in the Room

Even when they aren’t afraid of dental procedures, children can still be nervous to be in the room alone with the hygienist or dentist. Staying in the room with your child throughout the entire checkup can help them feel at ease. If you have multiple children receiving checkups at the same time, try to divide your time between your children who are most nervous and try to be in the same room as the dentist gives their evaluation. 

Stay Calm

Children are excellent at reading emotions. If you are feeling nervous about the trip to the dentist, whether it’s due to the cost of the trip, fearing how your children will behave, or your own dislike of the dentist, your children will pick up on and reflect these cues. On your way to the dentist, stay calm and positive about the visit. You might even suggest going to their favorite spot for lunch afterward to help your child stay excited. 

Trips to the dentist can be scary, but they don’t have to be. Teach your child what they can expect from the visit and why it’s important to take care of their teeth. Instead of dreading their visit, they may get excited!