There are many things at a dental office that may be scary for your child. Between the bright lights, the gloved hands, the masked face, not to mention someone he may not know well poking around his mouth, it’s understandable. But what can you do to help him overcome his fear of the dentist so he can get the early dental care he needs? The team at our pediatric dental office in Long Island understands and are specially trained to help. In this blog, we cover five of the top ways to help ease dental fear.
- Start Early. According to American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), your child should see the dentist for the first time around his first birthday. The earlier you get your child to the dentist’s office, the better. Introducing your child to the dental office environment early helps establish a sense of understanding that your chosen pediatric dentist in Long Island is here to help, not harm. It also gives you the opportunity to build trust with the dental team so you’re just as comfortable at your child’s visits as he is.
- Make it Fun. Before bringing your child to his first dental visit, consider doing some role playing at home. Pretend to be a dentist, put on a mask and some gloves, and have your child recline and relax. Gently poke in his mouth with your fingers and simulate an actual dental appointment. Not only will your child feel comfortable with you, he’ll also be relaxed in in his own home. You can even take turns and allow him to become the dentist and poke around in your mouth. Count teeth, look at them in a mirror, use a spare toothbrush to brush the teeth on his favorite toys. Turning dental care into a fun game at home can really help make dental visits more relaxing and easy for both of you.
- Keep Secrets. Even if you have a dental fear of your own, try your best to not let your child know. After all, if a parent is scared of something there’s a good chance the child will be too. Don’t discuss any bad experiences you may have had or use negative words like “hurt,” “shot,” or “pain.”
- Talk About It. Let’s say you’ve already conquered your child’s first dental visit. And it didn’t go very well. If you know ahead of time that your child is scared of the dental office, tell your dentist and dental team. Dental teams that work with children are trained to recognize dental fear and are skilled on ways to help.
- Visit Regularly. Like many things, dental visits tend to get easier with repetition. This is just one of many reasons your child’s bi-annual appointments are so important. Make sure you keep scheduled dental appointments to both help your child ease any fear and monitor his oral health for proper development.
Our Long Island pediatric dental office is always welcoming new patients, either with a known dental fear or not. We’re happy to see all of the littlest smiles in our community and are committed to providing a relaxing and gentle environment. We welcome you to call us today to set up an appointment.