Most parents don’t know that it is actually never too young to have your child’s first visit to their dentist. Many times, children first visit at ages 6-7. They are already afraid of their dentist by then, because all they’re used to is seeing doctors when they are not feeling well – which means yucky medicine or needles! Can we blame them for being a little afraid and traumatised of their dentist? To make matters worse, their first visit to their dentist is to extract their loose tooth! So how can they learn to trust their dentist or doctors when, to them, every visit is associated with pain? As your dentists at Smileway Dental Clinic USJ, here are some advices we would like to offer to ease your child into trusting their dentist:
- Let Their First Visit Be Pain Free!
From their toddler age, you can actually bring them to us so they can learn that we are their friends – not just scary doctors! You may even bring your toddler’s toothbrush with you, so they can brush their teeth with us at our clinic. Normally, it will be a fun experience and they will leave happy. Hence, they’ll be less afraid in their future visits when real work needs to be done. In first visits to Smileway, at toddler age, normally nothing needs to be done – we just try to educate both the child and parents on good dental hygiene. It’s all about building trust! <br>
- Bring Your Child For Early Age Check-Ups
From toddler age, even when only a few of their milk teeth are out, these few teeth may serve as good indicators for a number of issues such as future occlusion and appearance problems (protruding front teeth, protruding lower jaw), oral habits (thumb sucking, pencil biting) as well as bad oral hygiene (sleeping with a milk bottle, etc). Early age check-ups can help doctors stop more severe and serious problems from developing. In fact, by correcting certain habits, we can prevent more complex procedures in the future such as preventing them from having to wear braces, prevent rotten teeth, etc
- Don’t Use Doctors As Scary Authoritative Figures!
I have seen parents say to their children, “if you misbehave, the doctor will scold you” or the classic, “if you cry, mummy will go home and leave you here with the doctor”.Remember, even adults are afraid of doctors, so this threat isn’t going to help your child. Some adults are even afraid of doctors because they think the doctors make the decision for them – taking away their autonomy and freedom. So imagine, how would a child feel?
A more positive approach would be to let your child know that we, their dentist, are never there to hurt them, that we are there to listen to them and fix their problems. Keep reminding them that doctors are never there to hurt them – we take away their pain, not give them more pain. Your child must know that they have their own freedom and voice, that the dentist won’t do anything unless your child lets us. We can only convince them, but never force them when they are not ready.
- At Home, Educate Them On The Importance Of Their Smiles
Don’t only tell your child that dental health is important only when at the dentist, tell them at home too! Show them pictures of what happens when they don’t take care of their teeth – use your iPads for more than just games – Google images of “dental cavities”. Watch them brush and spend time with them to tell them the importance of a healthy smile! When your child knows how important their smiles are, they’ll be more motivated to take care of it even when they become adults. Parents play an important role.
- Interactive Games Before Seeing A Dentist
You can also ease them and help them understand how a dentist helps with their teeth with many interactive games available on the iPad or on Android tablets.
Together, let’s build trust and righter smiles for your children!
Written By: Dr. Belinda Dwee