Children, like adults, may be prone to anxiety. Sometimes it’s about the first day of school, sometimes it’s about visiting the dentist. In any case, anxiety is often caused when a child feels like they have little or no control. It is caused by the unknown, a break from routine, separation from their parents, or a fear of pain.
While this may be cause for concern, it’s also good news – the unknown is something that can be treated by teaching! When children learn about cleaning their teeth and going to the dentist in a fun and engaging way, they respond positively to visiting the dental office, rather than with fear. That’s why at Desired Smiles, we offer a unique dental program for children. It’s built to educate children on a dentist’s process and give them back some control when they’re in the dentist’s office.
This dental program is more than just an appointment with a dentist, it’s a way to educate children about oral hygiene and to become comfortable with visiting the dentist’s office. Learn more about what we do!
What We Do
Our self-care program is an hour long session for children between the ages of 2-6. Using interactive tools like puppets, cameras, models, or microscopes, children are able to have an engaged role with their dental experience. They become comfortable in the dental office by learning about the dentist’s process. They also learn about the importance of personal oral care at home.
Our prep program is a half-hour session where children get a chance to play dentist and perform dentistry on puppets. Here they become familiar with the tools used for their own appointment. Understanding the tools helps children understand their own procedure and feel in control, even when they’re the ones in the dentist’s chair rather than playing the role of the dentist.
In the case that children need specific dentist treatments based on the child’s age, our goal is to make the experience as easy and stress free as possible. Here, parents are encouraged to get involved! Having a familiar face with the child while they undergo their treatment can help the child feel more comfortable in a place that is outside their regular routine.
What You Can Do
Besides being there during their procedure, there are ways you can help your child feel more comfortable with their visit to the dentist. Before and after their trip to the dentist, make your children feel comfortable with their experience.
Before you arrive, explain to them where they’re going and what’s going to happen. If they’re participating in our self-care or prep program, get them excited about playing dentist or exploring the tools of the office.
When you’re telling them about their appointment, avoid using words that can frighten them. Don’t tell them things will hurt or be painful. Don’t share personal experiences, unless they’re positive. If they ask questions, answer simply and when you’re in doubt, let the dentist explain a procedure to them. Our dentists are trained to describe procedures to children in a non-threatening way.
Both before and after your trip you should remember to discuss the importance of maintaining healthy teeth and gums to your children. Remind them that a dentist is there to help keep their teeth and gums healthy.
It’s also important not to treat going to the dentist as a negative experience for the child. You should not promise a reward for their trip to the dentist, as this could imply to the child that they need an incentive to get them through a negative experience. This could also make it harder for you to get your child to the dentist down the line. Instead, encourage children to keep playing dentist when they’re home. Remind them of their positive experience there rather than focusing on the parts that may have made them nervous – you don’t want the nerves to return when it’s time for their next visit. This is a great way to encourage them to keep their teeth healthy by brushing too!
Your child may still be fearful, but one positive experience is the key to transform their perception of their trips to the dentist. Help put them at ease by bringing them to Desired Smiles!