When it comes to visiting the dentist or the doctor, children are wary of pain. They know that these professionals are there to help, but that doesn’t mean that what they do won’t hurt. Many children develop an early fear of the dentist because they worry that the procedures done in their mouths will cause them pain. If your child is afraid of the dentist, there are some ways you can distract them at the office that can help their appointment go by smoothly.
⦁ Toys/Comfort Items
If you know your child will be nervous in the waiting room, bring along some toys for them to play with, or a comfort item that will put them at ease. Playing with toys at the dentist can help children associate that place with fun instead of dread. You don’t have to keep all your distraction tools for the waiting room, though, as a comfort item like a stuffed animal or blanket can go with your child into their appointment.
While the dentist will typically make conversation with your child during their appointment, you can also help distract your child by speaking with them. You can talk about what they can expect from their visit to help prepare them, or you can talk about other things, like what you’ll do after the appointment ends. If you go into the room with your child and the dentist, you can also distract your child with conversations with the dentist.
Even if you don’t typically allow your child to play games on your phone or for them to bring devices to public outings, the dentist may be a good exception to the rule. Your child may relax if they are playing a game to distract them while they wait for the dentist.
Many dentist’s offices are catching on to the idea that some children need to be distracted so they’ve put televisions in many waiting rooms and even in appointment rooms. This can be a great way for your children to take their minds off of whatever the dentist is doing and focus instead on the movie or show. If your dentist’s office doesn’t have something like this, plug some headphones into your phone and have your child watch something from your device while they are in the waiting room.
⦁ Ask for a Tour
Sometimes, your child may simply be nervous because they are in a place that they are unfamiliar with. As you set up your child’s appointment, ask if it would be possible for you to take a tour. A tour may allow your child to see and understand all that is going on in their new environment, thus making them more comfortable.
Music is a useful distraction for children, and adults too. Listening to comforting, familiar music can make you feel more confident and secure with the events going on in the office around you. Just make sure that you ask your dentist if it’s okay for you to have your earbuds in while they perform the cleaning or whatever procedure they have scheduled.
Regularly visiting the dentist is a big part of your child’s oral health—but that doesn’t mean it won’t be scary for them. If your child is nervous, use one of these distraction techniques to help them feel more at ease. You might even consider visiting a pediatric dentist as they are more accustomed to making their young patients feel calm.
Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash