There’s lots of advice out there for parents about how to talk to their children about visiting the dentist. Today, we’d like to point out a few things to avoid saying!
For children visiting the dentist for the first time, the process can be a bit intimidating. Although we've cultivated an office environment here at Smile Town North Delta intended to make kids feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible for some kids it can still be a bit overwhelming.
It’s certainly understandable! A new environment, full of new people, in which your child will experience unfamiliar things; who wouldn't feel out of sorts? In addition to that, having your teeth and mouth examined can feel oppressive or invasive at the best of times, and especially if you've never had it done before.
With all that being said, there are some ways that you, as a parent, can make this experience easier for your child. One of those is preparing them ahead of time with a gentle, honest discussion about what to expect.
This conversation can come with some pitfalls though, and we’re here to help you avoid them!
When talking to your child about visiting the dentist, try to avoid the following:
Words like ‘shot’, ‘drill’, or ‘needle’ should probably be avoided as much as possible because they might alarm your child. During your child's initial appointments, our team introduces a special vocabulary designed to present dental information to children in a gentle, easy-to-understand way, and help them get through the scary stuff.
Which means you should also avoid...
Going through a detailed, step-by-step description of the dental examination and cleaning will only make your child try to picture the process, and with no context, this might be scary and confusing.
It also opens you up to questions that could put you in the position of using some of the scary words noted above.
The simplest thing to tell children about what will happen during a dental appointment is that the dentist will examine their smiles, and count their teeth. That’s it!
Talking about your own negative experiences
Telling your child about your own uncomfortable, scary, or painful dental experiences in an effort to ‘relate’ to his or her anxiety will only make that anxiety worse.
You can learn more about how to be a good oral health care influence here.
Much like going into detail about things you know will happen, try to avoid speculating about what might happen if you child has a cavity, if you child needs a special dental or orthodontic appliance, what the fluoride treatment might taste like, how long certain things will take, etc., etc,. This will only result in unnecessary worrying and fretting.
It may seem like a good idea to promise a reward for good behaviour at the dentist’s office, but this may actually increase your child’s sense of apprehension.
When you say, ‘if you’re good and don’t cry, you’ll get a treat afterwards,’ your child may wonder about what might make them want to cry or misbehave during the appointment.
This doesn't mean you can't give your child a treat as a reward for good behaviour after the fact, though. Celebrating a job well done is always encouraged!