When it comes to your kids’ teeth, you can and should try to make pediatric cleanings and cavity appointments positive experiences. Believe it or not, it’s possible…and we’re about to tell you how with Dr. Drew Popper of Junior Smiles! This will help your children foster a healthy, lifelong relationship with dental care. And we all want that as parents!
Introducing Your Child To The Dentist
First off, don’t “teach” your child to fear the dentist! Fear of pain, fear of the unknown, and separation from parents are the real dental gremlins. The rest is just details, according to Dr. Popper! This can be challenging if you have a dental phobia, yourself. If you do, your mission is to avoid communicating it to your child by any means possible. Some tips…
- Introducing your child to the dentist early promotes familiarity and lasting comfort. It’s writing on a clean slate. The appearance of the first tooth is the ideal time. There’s almost no physical pain or discomfort in modern dentistry, so the child’s experience is really determined by attitude and expectations. These are yours to shape.
- Announce appointments in advance with cheerful daily reminders. Surprises are disruptive. Explain briefly in positive, age-appropriate terms, what will happen at the dentist.
Cleaning appointments include a physical exam, plaque and tartar removal, gritty toothpaste polishing, flossing, rinsing, and perhaps fluoride and sealant application. A kid-friendly briefing goes something like this: “The dentist and his helper will take a look at your teeth, and clean them better than we can clean them at home with our toothbrushes.”
Cavities - What To Expect At Your Child's Appointment
Cavity appointments are potentially a little more invasive. The dentist has a variety of techniques to get children through these procedures and make sure they have a positive experience. Here’s how Dr. Popper briefs his patients for their cavity visits: “We are going to use a special electric toothbrush to brush your teeth, just like you do at home. It is very easy and we will be done very quickly.”
- Avoid words like “hurt”, “painful”, or “shots” when discussing cavity appointments. Never suggest that “…this is what happens when you don’t brush your teeth!” Dental care is not punishment! Most dentists are happy to have a parent in the treatment room to help keep the experience positive. After checking with the office, you can assure your child you’ll stay with him or her throughout. All parents are allowed back at Junior Smiles.
- Younger children may benefit from bringing along a favorite toy to play with in the waiting room. Most dentists won’t mind if a familiar teddy comes along in the treatment room.
- Establish a tradition of doing something great after each pediatric dentist appointment. Head for the playground, the movies, a favorite eatery or an activity that helps make dental appointments something your child actually looks forward to.