Admittedly, there are some children who simply don’t become fazed by anything you put in front of them. From an unanticipated weekend trip to see a relative, to being dragged for the weekly shop, anything different from their day-to-day means fun. However, as many of you probably know from experience, a trip to the dentist can be daunting at any age. Here’s how to approach the subject of dental procedures with children…
Get them used to the trips early
There’s that age-old thing about going to the dentist every six months, especially as children. However, NHS guidelines actually recommend that you visit your dentist simply as often as they recommend.
Therefore, while children should certainly get used to visiting the dentist from as young an age as possible, kids who look after their teeth may find that they visit their local practice less often as they age. Still, if there comes a time when a child begins to visit their dentist more regularly, and knows they’re heading for another trip soon, this is when that child could start to jitter.
Explain the problem
When a dental procedure is on the horizon, and the child starts to become a little anxious, a chat is the best place to start. Some children may even resort to pretending that any discomfort they’ve experienced is gone, so it’s not always worth explaining that the dentist will take their pain away. Instead, you’ve got the ideal chance to talk through the importance of oral hygiene, and what can go wrong when it’s not maintained.
However, for more complex procedures, it may not be worth going into this level of detail. Instead, it could be a case of putting it in terms that the child will understand. For instance, you could say that having a brace fitted is how X influential celebrity was able to get such perfect teeth (do be carefully not to choose an example person who’s blatantly had dental implants or teeth whitening!).
In most cases, though, dental procedures involving children are corrective and preventative. Therefore, focus on the outcome, such as how their life will be improved, how the treatment will help them in the future, and – crucially – that they might never need to go through it ever again.
Naturally, it also helps to have a fantastic dentist waiting for you upon your next visit. Be sure to consider a friendly, professional Ten Dental practice, for example, the next time you switch dentists.
Deal with each emotion separately
It’s not uncommon for children to go through a range of intense emotions before any sort of surgery or procedure. Some children feel guilt, believing that they’re being punished, while others are prone to fear and anxiety. The concept of needles, knives and having to sit or lie still while someone makes alterations within your mouth isn’t something that ever really becomes popular with anyone!
However, this is a great opportunity to show the children how they are strong enough to overcome even the most negative emotions. Regardless of how they feel before, be sure to remind them, after the procedure, how they felt originally – and how well they handled the entire process. With any luck, it’ll be a little more personal growth for them when they’ve come through it!