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How to Help Your Kids Through a Dental Appointment

When it comes to childhood fears, the dentist is right up there with shots, cooties and the Bogeyman. However, dental appointments don’t have to be terrifying. With a little planning, you can make exams and procedures much less painful for both you and your child. Here are five tips to help your kids get through a dental appointment.

Practice at Home

A great way to prepare your child for a dental appointment is to walk them through it with pretend play. Get a toy dental set and use it to explain everything that will happen during the dentist visit. Then allow your child to be the dentist and examine your teeth.

Dress Your Child in Casual Clothing

While you might be tempted to dress your child up for a visit to the dentist, it’s more important that your child is comfortable. Dress them in loose-fitting, casual clothing with elastic waists and soft fabric. Layering pieces, such as sweaters and hoodies, are a good idea because dental offices are often kept on the chilly side.

Bring Comfort Objects

Most children have a favorite toy, blanket or pillow that brings them comfort. Let your child bring something to cuddle during their dental appointment to help them feel safe and calm their anxiety. Comfort objects are especially helpful during an emergency dentist visit when children may be in pain or scared and things are happening quickly.

Don’t Leave the Room

Nothing puts a child at ease more than the presence of a parent or caregiver. Stay in the exam room with your child during the entire appointment. If your child is tilted back where they can’t see you, hold their hand or talk to them so they knows you’re there. Avoid dentists who don’t allow parents in the room with children.

Offer a Reward

Take your child for a special treat after her dental appointment. Movies, toys, games and healthy treats make good rewards, but avoid sweets after the dentist because it sends a mixed message to your child. Don’t withhold a reward if your child fussed during the appointment. The important thing is that she got through it, and getting something positive afterward will make her less afraid next time.

If your child puts up too much of a fight, don’t be afraid to consider sedation dentistry. Sedation is much safer than a child who kicks and squirms during dental procedures, and there is little risk when performed by an experienced professional.

Tim Esterdahl

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