A visit to the dentist’s clinic can be nerve-wracking for a kid. Even though a dentist in Quincy will ensure that the entire process that includes taking an appointment, check-up and treatment, is as smooth as possible, you still have to do your bit as a parent and make your child as comfortable as possible. The task becomes twice as difficult, when you have to prep your kid for the first dental surgery. The horror stories that float on the internet, are of no help either!
So, the question is, how can you prepare your child for a dental appointment, especially if it is their first time? Here are the points that will guide you.
1. Make your child familiar with the dentist’s clinic: More often than not, it is the dentist’s clinic, the dentist’s chair, uniform, mask and tools, which children find intimidating. This is why, your first step should be making your kid familiar with the dentist’s clinic. You can always call up the dental clinic a few days in advance to schedule a tour of the facility.
After meeting the dentists and the staff and getting used to the environment of the clinic, your kid will be anything but nervous on the day of the appointment.
2. Be honest, but don’t provide them too much information: Be honest about the visit to the dentist, especially if your child is going to have a complicated oral surgery. Tell them that they are going to a special kind of a doctor, who will help them. But don’t give them all the details. For instance, you may tell that it might take more than a few minutes for the surgery to get over. Or that, they will need to be on an empty stomach for a few hours (if anesthesia is involved).
Skip telling them “how exactly will it be done” and the technical jargons related to the surgery. Doing so will only scare them more.
3. Rehearse the steps: Kids generally feel ill at ease merely at the thought of the dentist (a stranger) probing their mouth using an unfamiliar equipment. Help them get rid of their fear by rehearsing the steps of a routine dental examination with them. Let them play the dentist by wearing mask, gloves and giving them a fake instrument, while you become the patient and lay down on a chair for the “treatment”. Similarly, you can play the dentist and let them be the patient. This will make them more confident of facing the real thing.
4. Listen to them: Your child is definitely going to ask you tons of questions regarding the dental appointment and all you have to do is listen to them. For instance, they’ll ask you – what dentists are supposed to do, how much time will the process take, will you be there by their side and most importantly, is it going to hurt?
Don’t shrug off questions or change the topic to something else. Children need to be given a valid explanation that will help them calm their fears and hence, listen to them and answer their questions one at a time.
5. Talk about the good stuff: A lot of dental procedures require the children to eat soft meals post-treatment. So, what you can do is, talk your kid and about all the yummy stuff they can have, provided that they patiently go through the entire treatment. Chart out a soft meal diet plan with them or discuss other perks like having an ice-lolly (when they are going to have a tooth pulled). This will encourage them further and give them a positive idea about the appointment.
6. Give assurance: Assure your child that you are going to be in the same vicinity/waiting outside for them till the surgery or the treatment gets over. This simple assurance also works wonders for kids. Also, when you are there with them before, during or after the surgery, hold their hands as this will constantly remind them that you are there with them. This will act as their safety net and gives them peace of mind.
7. Take their special toy: Allow you kid to take their special soft toy (lucky charm), a photograph of their choice, some comics or a blanket/comforter that smells like home to the dentist’s clinic. This builds up their courage and acts as a morale booster.
8. Let them play games in the waiting room: When you are in the waiting room with your kid, let them play some video games on a hand held console or a mobile device to keep their anxiety at bay. Most of the dental clinics also have a play area or toys, which keep kids busy.
9. Play their favorite song/movie: Dental clinics also play movies for their young patients to keep them engaged, especially during lengthy dental procedures. If this is not the case at the dental clinic you are visiting, then talk to your dentist beforehand and ask whether you can play your kid’s favorite song or a movie on a mobile device while they are being treated/examined.
10. Dress them up in comfortable clothes: Children can get quite fidgety when they are asked to stay still, especially in the dentist’s chair. This is the reason why you need to dress them up in comfortable clothes and shoes. These can be easily removed, if they need to change into a gown before or during the treatment.
Your kid’s first dental appointment can turn into a good experience and not a horror story by putting these tips into practice. At the same time, you should remind yourself that kids can be very unpredictable and if things don’t exactly go according to your plan A or even plan B for that matter, remember that the alphabet has 26 letters! Most importantly, be patient with your kid because the thought of being in a dentist’s clinic is probably as traumatic for them as it was for you, when you were their age.