The thought of a dentist is painful for all of us. There is rarely a person who would enjoy a dental visit. Few people are conscious enough about their teeth, to schedule a regular check-up appointment. Unless there is pain, this part of the body somehow remains neglected.
So when we elders are so scared, how do we instill that courage in our children? It all starts from the first dental visit and exactly what the parents are teaching their kids about it.
Photo courtesy arztsamui, freedigitalphotos.net
We fear dental treatments because of the scary looking instruments, injections or the drill. But the positive part is the child does not know all these. So at the onset, they really don't have anything to fear.
By around 2 years of age, when all the baby teeth are in the mouth, the child eats almost all adult food. This is the ideal time to make the trip to the dental clinic.
Here are few things you can tell (or not tell) your child.
It is a good idea to not make too much fuss about where you are going, lest the child doubts something. (Kids are too smart nowadays)
Meet the dentist casually. It is preferable to see one who is specialized with the pediatric section. They have additional training on child behavior and are able to handle kids much better.
You can introduce the doctor as a friend who just wants to 'count your teeth'.
Don't portray the dentist as a monster. Refrain from scaring your child by referring to a dental visit when he/she's being naughty. This is the biggest mistake many parents do and unknowingly embed the dental fear in their mind.
Unfortunately, if your child develops early tooth decay and you did not get a chance to this 'friendly dental visit', be very careful what you tell your kid. Never mention about injections.
Use positive reinforcement like, "If you are nice during the appointment, you get your favorite toy/ food or a picnic, etc."
If in doubt about communicating with your child during the treatment, discuss with your dentist.
Dental fear, if it manifests itself during childhood, stays through adulthood and is very tough to erase. An unco-operative child is a harrowing experience for the dentist too. The right approach and communication, can mold the child to accept dental treatment better and who knows seeing your baby, you might get brave too!