You may find that your children's expectations about dentistry and dental care can be quite different from your own, and that taking a hands-off approach can sometimes go a long way in making those first appointments go well.
Most adults have had one or two unpleasant dental experiences in their lives. Whether it was finding out you had 6 cavities at your first dental appointment at the tender age of 7, or having to undergo a root canal when you were in your late 20s, those uncomfortable dental experiences can leave a mark on even the toughest adults.
Even when you try not to, it's very easy to convey your feelings of fear, anxiety, or general discomfort at the idea of going to the dentist to your children. Kids can be pretty perceptive and can often sense that something makes you uneasy.
Often, adults unintentionally infuse soothing messages with hints of the anxiety they really feel, in spite of their best intentions.
Presenting a positive but casual attitude to dental care can play an important role in setting your child up for successful dental appointments. But if you're not sure if you can quite muster it, it might be better to avoid talking too much about your child’s upcoming appointment.
That's not to say you shouldn't mention it at all, or avoid answering your child's questions on the subject. But the key is to keep it simple.
Answer questions about what will happen by explaining that the dentist will simply ‘take a close look and your smile and count your teeth.’ You'll find that you really won't have to go into too much more detail than that; it's a true and honest statement that doesn't allow for much interpretation.
If you’re a nervous dental patient yourself, it may also be for the best if you stay out of the examination room during the appointment, and let the dentist and hygienist do their thing.
This may be difficult, especially if your child is feeling a little nervous, but remember: the dental team has lots of experience working with children. We know the best words and terminology to use to help kids feel comfortable and at ease during their appointments with us. And we want them to have a good experience just as much as you do!