Taking a child to the dentist can be one of three things -- a nightmare, an exercise in futility, or a smooth, uneventful appointment that results in clean, healthy teeth. Any parent would choose the latter option, but few know how to actually accomplish it. Here are four super cool ways you can help your child look forward to dental appointments (yes, seriously) and calm any fears they may have about the dentist.
1. Watch Your Language!
Educating your child about visiting the dentist is a great way to help them learn why going to the dentist is important and what to expect when they're there. However, four letter words are abound when it comes to talking about dental work, and no, they're not obscene to you -- just your child.
Keep mum on negative topics, like whether the dental work will "hurt," or your child will feel "pain," or have to get a "shot." These four letter words should be completely eliminated from your dentist related vocabulary. Replace them with positive phrases like "strong," "healthy," and "clean."
2. Let Your Child Listen to Music
One of the scariest parts of going to the dentist is listening to the sounds of the drill, the suctioning device and other dental tools without seeing them or understanding what they are or what they're for. While letting your child explore the tools before they open wide is a good idea, some children are still freaked out by the loud, unfamiliar sounds.
Let your child wear a pair of headphones and listen to their favorite music on a low volume. They'll still need to be able to hear the dentist in order to follow instructions, so avoid turning it up so loud they can't hear anything. However, being able to focus on the songs they love can distract them enough from what is happening in the dentist's chair to keep them calm.
3. Arm Yourself With the Proper Ammunition
Don't even think of taking a child to the dentist without a bag full of ammunition -- meaning, games, toys, activities and even snacks. While you might not want to break out the cheese crackers right before the appointment, having snacks just in case the dentist is running late and you're stuck in the waiting room for awhile can be a lifesaver in the event it actually happens.
Stock up on fun activities and toys that you bring out only for appointments, so everything in your ammo pack is new and fun. Your child will love going to the dentist if it means they get to dive into a bag of brand new goodies to play with.
4. Reward Your Child For Awesomeness
Planning to treat your child to lunch at their favorite restaurant or an ice cream cone after their appointment can work wonders to helping them to get through the visit itself.
While bribing your child to elicit good behavior during the appointment may also work, the fact of the matter is, they deserve something fun and special just for hopping up into the chair. Don't make the reward contingent upon your child's behavior. Instead, let them know that you're going out for ice cream no matter what!
Staying positive about your child's dental appointments, being prepared for the time spent in the office and rewarding your child for a job well done are all excellent ways to get your child to actually look forward to going to the dentist. Even major dental work can seem like a breeze when you bring a sack full of cool new toys and go out for a fun treat afterwards!
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