Dental anxiety is common among people of all ages. It can affect people of all ages, including kids. However, kids are more prone to dental anxiety than adults are. Some children get nervous before visiting the dentist. Other children get nervous about specific procedures.
Dentists recommend children begin seeing a dentist at least by the age of three. Ideally, you should plan to take your child to see the dentist by the time they turn one year old. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends parents take their children to see the dentist within six months after their first tooth erupts. The earlier you introduce your children to the dentist, the better chance they'll grow up with a trusting relationship with their dental provider and a willingness to take care of their teeth by themselves.
The earlier you start dental appointments for your child, the more you can model good dental care habits for them to follow as they get older. Children love to mimic their parents – so when they see you take your oral health seriously, they are more likely to do the same.
When your child sees you visit the dentist regularly, they will learn that it is a part of life. They will also learn that nothing bad happens when they go for a checkup – in fact, they get rewarded with a prize at the end! When you take your child to the dentist every six months, they will see that oral health is a lifelong commitment that requires work on their part as well as the part of their parents. If children are consistently taken to their dentists from a young age, they will grow up having familiarity with the dental office environment and the procedures done there. This familiarity will breed comfort and even excitement when they go to their own checkups in the future.
Bring comfort items to the dental practice
Bringing along a familiar comfort item like a blanket or toy can help make dental visits less stressful for kids and more comfortable for you. These items are especially important for children who are very young and still learning to separate from you and feel safe in a new environment. If you bring an item from home that your child enjoys, he or she will be less anxious and more at ease when it's time to head to the dental office.
Read stories and play games
Reading stories about going to the dentist and playing games that simulate the experience can help children get used to the idea of visiting a dentist's office. When it's time to have your child's first visit at the dentist's office, read to them about the benefits of regular cleanings and exams. You may even want to show them educational videos about proper oral hygiene and why it's so important to visit the dentist on a regular basis. This can also give them some comfort in asking questions about their upcoming appointment.
Teach the importance of oral health
First and foremost, children will have great role models to follow. Parents who practice good oral hygiene themselves and demonstrate good habits when taking care of their teeth will set a great example for their children. A family that brushes and flosses together sticks together, and children will grow up knowing that dental care is essential.
Lead by example
The best way to teach your child about good oral health is to lead by example. Practice excellent oral hygiene habits at home and encourage your kids to do the same. Brush and floss with your kids, and use positive language when explaining the importance of brushing and flossing every day. When it's time for their dental visit, take them to see a dentist with a gentle bedside manner who is experienced with children. A dentist like this can help soothe anxious children and help them look forward to future dental visits. Additionally, it can be helpful to look for a family dental care clinic that offers many services in one location so that you don't have to drive all over town for your children's appointments. This can save a lot of time and stress for both you and your little ones.
To learn more about best practices for oral health, call Bay Area Dental at (510) 350-8187 or visit our dental office at 3300 Webster Street, #907, Oakland, CA 94609. Book your appointment with our dentist in Oakland, CA, to achieve the smile you have always wished for.