Pediatric dentistry is an area of dentistry that focuses on the oral health of children. Starting good dental hygiene habits early in life is important. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, more than 50% of children under the age of nine have had at least one cavity in their baby teeth, and…
Establishing a Positive Dental Attitude in Your Child [Pediatric Dentistry]
Whether it is a child’s first visit to a pediatric dentist or a return visit for a specific issue, the idea of a dental visit can sometimes be frightening. Taking the time to develop a positive attitude toward dental visits is an important step toward continued dental care for children. Once the dentist office is established as a safe space, it can lead to greater compliance and fewer interventions in the future.
How can a positive dental attitude be encouraged?
A positive dental attitude can begin to be established early on with the youngest patients. Once developed, continual reinforcement of the positive experience helps children maintain their level of comfort.
Visit a pediatric dentist at a young age
Positive early experiences can lead to long-term positive associations with a pediatric dentist. A child’s first visit to the dentist can be scheduled as soon as the baby teeth begin to erupt in infancy, although some people choose to wait until age two or three before the first appointment.
Since many children will not tolerate a cleaning at that age, the dentist can perform a practice exam during which dental tools are discussed, gloves and masks can be examined by the child and teeth are counted. If the child is unwilling to sit in a dentist chair, a lap-sit exam can be performed. Choosing a pediatric dentist that is known for a kid-centered office environment can also help with establishing a good dental relationship.
Avoid using negative wording
Parents can help establish a positive attitude toward the dentist by being careful with wording when discussing dental appointments and procedures. Avoiding words like scary, frightening, hurt or pain when talking about the dentist can prevent negative associations from being formed. When discussing the dentist, it is equally important to make sure the body language matches the positive wording.
Discuss the advantages of healthy teeth
As a child gets older, more information about the importance of healthy dental habits can help continue the positive dental association. Stressing how regular cleanings fit in with a good oral hygiene routine helps children associate a pediatric dentist with a helper. Everyone has the goal of a healthy smile, so reiterating how dental visits can help achieve this goal can form a long-lasting positive relationship with the dentist.
Practice good home dental hygiene
Making dental hygiene practices at home fun and interactive can get kids on board with the idea of keeping teeth clean and healthy. Starting with teething and tooth eruption and continuing when adult teeth emerge, establishing healthy habits can lower the chance that a dental procedure will be needed in the future. Children who continuously receive a clean bill of dental health during a visit can quickly associate the dentist with a positive aspect of routine health care.
Visiting the dentist is a common fear for children, but taking steps to establish a positive association with dental visits from an early age can prevent the development of these fears before they start. Through positive wording when discussing dentist appointments and keeping a child knowledgeable about the advantages of dental health, a long-term positive association can be maintained.
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