The biggest difference between a general dentist and a pediatric dentist is that the pediatric dentist is specifically trained for 2-3 additional years in order better to help children and put them at ease. Everything we do is geared toward making children comfortable and safe in a fun and happy dental environment.
One of the most gratifying experiences we have as pediatric dentists is watching a previously fearful child grow to love visiting our office. Being regular (every 6 months) with your dental visits helps to reduce fear and anxiety as well as promote proper oral health habits. Our specially trained staff knows how to make visits fun and all have children themselves. With help from you, the parent, we can work together to make every visit better than the last. Here are a few ways to help…
Be Careful When You Talk About Oral Health and Dental Visits
As specialists, we are trained to say things the right way. We never lie to children, but instead of saying “we are going to give you a shot”, we might say “we are going to make your tooth sleepy”. Phrasing things correctly and not directly confronting a threatening situation helps to keep things calm and slowly build trust.
At home, you don’t need to scare your children to get them to brush. Let us handle it. Saying the “dentist is going to drill your teeth if you don’t brush” often ends up causing a bigger issue later. Especially if we do have to work on their teeth. Talk to us, and we can tell you the best thing to say in your specific situation. You can also bring your kids into the office in-between cleanings for oral hygiene “reinforcement”. We can have our hygienist show them the proper way to brush and floss again. If they’d prefer to stay home instead of doing that, maybe they decide to become better brushers/flossers at home in the process.
Rewards and positive reinforcement also go a long way towards learning a new habit. Rewards (not candy) for brushing and flossing at home are a big help. Studies say it’s much more effective than threatening consequences if they don’t brush and floss.
Establish a Dental Home
It is recommended by the AAPD that a child find their “dental home” by the time their first tooth erupts. This is usually around 6 months of age. A dental home is a place that you can go to in order to help your child learn long-lasting proper dental habits and how to take care of their oral health for the rest of their lives. Having regular visits to your dental home reduces the chances of adverse dental issues as they get older and gives you peace of mind that your children are always watched and cared for with regards to their oral health. With regular appointments, dental visits become part of your child’s yearly routine making them less likely to have any fear of the dental office.
What We Can Do
If your child is fearful or anxious, please let us know prior to their appointment. We can work with you to make their experience excellent. If they require treatment, we have many options to help us all succeed. Call us if you ever have any questions.