As an experienced McKinney family dentist, Dr. Lawrence understands that many kids remains scared of visiting the dentist. In fact, studies have found that roughly one in three kids have some type of dental phobia that prevents them from receiving the care their oral health requires. As a result, those kids have a disproportionally higher risk for developing tooth decay, cavities, and oral infections such as gum disease.
A child’s oral health can impact more than just their smile. Kids who deal with untreated tooth decay miss more school and perform more poorly in school when compared to kids with healthy teeth and gums.
In some extreme cases, kids can even develop problems eating and talking as a result of their poor oral health. These types of issues can seriously impact a child’s development, and could require expensive treatments to correct.
Fortunately, parents can work with their kids to help them overcome their dental phobias using a variety of techniques. To help you make visiting your McKinney family dentist an experience your kids enjoy rather than fear, here are a few tips to keep in mind for easing any dental phobia.
Start Dental Care at a Young Age
Kids fear experiences that seems strange or odd. Kids have no problem climbing trees, jumping off swings, or sliding down hills because these types of experiences of playing outside are familiar to them. Take the bravest kids on the playground to a strange dentist’s office and see how their courage abandons them once they step into an unfamiliar environment.
Familiarity is the key to making a trip to the dentist seem less scary to a child. If a child gets used to vising a dentist, especially from a young age, future trips will be like seeing an old friend rather than a new stranger.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends that parents schedule their child’s first dental visit by the age of one, or immediately following the emergence of their first tooth.
Kids pickup and interpret what their parents say far more than you might initially think. If you don’t enjoy visiting the dentist, or have some type of dental anxiety yourself, your kids will pick up on that if you talk disparagingly about receiving dental care.
For example, saying to a child that you don’t enjoy visiting the dentist either, but that it’s no big deal sets the wrong expectations. Your child might start to wonder why don’t you like to visit the dentist. If the dentist is scary to mommy or daddy, then your child will certainly view their visit with intense trepidation.
Instead, focus on the positive aspects of visiting the dentist. Tell your child how great their smile will look once they’ve come home. How healthy teeth allow them to eat all of their favorite foods that will help them grow big and strong.
How you view visiting the dentist will be how your child will view the experience. Stay positive and you’ll give them far less to worry about.
Provide a Positive Reward
As any parent knows, occasionally bribing your child with a reward can go a long way to getting the type of behavior you want. Promising your child can watch a favorite video when back home, that you’ll stop at a playground, or take them somewhere like the zoo can do wonders for helping to make visiting a McKinney family dentist a lot easier for parents.
However, you need to consider how you phrase promising a reward. Try not to tell your kids that as a reward for their good behavior you’ll give them a treat. Like we mentioned above with positive behavior, phrasing a trip to the dentist as an ordeal a child needs to survive can set the wrong expectation. Rather, simply say that once you’re done at the dentist you’ll do an activity they will really enjoy.
Instead of reminding your child they only get their reward if good, just keep gently reminding them of the fun that awaits once they’re done.
Occasionally parents, especially those with their own dental phobias, will start to feel stressed about their child’s dental visit. Worries about their kids experiencing discomfort or throwing a tantrum can sneak their way into how you talk about the trip. As we continue to state, how you talk about your visit can make all of the difference.
Rest assured, you have nothing to worry about when visiting McKinney Smiles. As an experienced family dentist in McKinney, Our team of gentle and experienced oral health professionals specialize in help every member of the family feel comfortable and relaxed during every visit.