Children need to look after their teeth and periodically visit the dentist. Both these practices are as tricky as they are necessary. Children get nervous at the dentist. But some preparation can reduce and perhaps eliminate this problem.
Visit the dentist as soon as the first teeth appear in the child’s mouth. The younger the child is when they have a new experience like this the better. It gives them a chance to get used to something so that it is no longer foreign to them.
Avoid false ideas
If we over-reassure the child that there is no pain they will have a very negative reaction to any situation where there is a painful treatment. This is tricky, but be realistic.
Try a pretend visit
Lie the child on a couch, put an apron and sunglasses on them, and give them a pretend dental exam. Just use their toothbrush to touch and count each tooth. Show them their smile in a little mirror.
Various popular cartoon characters have an educational episode about a visit to the dentist. Show these to the child. It works best with characters they already like.
Realize that this is an odd experience for the child, and there will be the type of fuss that will inevitably occur during a child’s emotional development. Try to make them understand that dentist and healthy tooth care is a necessity, not a choice. Avoid bribery with a treat – for some reason, this seems to backfire.
Some parents have taken the child along during their own visit to the dentist thinking this will accustom the child to the situation. But this also seems to backfire. The child seems to pick up on the anxiety. Meeting the dentist might help.
If the child still has stuffed toys you can make them responsible for the toy’s dental health. Make a game of the child brushing the toy’s teeth.
Encourage the child to look after their teeth in whatever way works best for that individual child. Try to make them understand that this gives them an attractive smile, and avoids problems later on. Admittedly, even adults resist this truth, but it is better to try.
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