Some kids go through their lives in search of the next great adventure. Some kids prefer consistency and familiar surroundings. Eventually the unfamiliar becomes familiar, and all is well. Your child may have been a bit apprehensive, maybe even fearful, when they were first getting to know their dentist, but soon the pair became better acquainted, and all was well.
Then life happens, and the once familiar routine becomes unfamiliar all over again. Maybe your dentist retires, or your family relocates to a new town. Some kids are excited to go to new places and meet new people, but if your child is hesitant, you may find yourself back to square one, helping your child establish a relationship of familiarity and trust with their dentist.
Helping Your Child Make the Transition to a New Dental Office
Some children have a little more trouble adjusting to change than others. But with a bit of planning and preparation, your kid may be less afraid of a new dentist. You may want to try some of the following suggestions:
- Schedule an Appointment in Person – Rather than simply scheduling your appointment over the phone; it may be helpful to include your child in the process. If you call your dentist’s office before stopping by, you can explain your situation and concerns for your child. This gives your dental office a heads up, and they can work with you to help your child feel welcome.
- Involve Your Child in Selecting the Date and Time – Give your child input, even if it’s just selecting between dates or the time of their appointment. Having their preferences heard could help your child feel a bit more in control of the entire process. When you both return on the scheduled date, the office will feel a bit more familiar to your child.
- Have a Celebratory Countdown – Let your child help you mark the date and time on a calendar or chart. Cross the days off as they pass, while speaking positively about the upcoming meeting with their future dentist. It may help if your child gets the impression that the upcoming dentist visit is a happy occasion, an event to look forward to.
Be Aware of Accidentally Interjecting Your Own Concerns
Kids are smart and quite observant. If you are apprehensive about how your child will react to visiting a new dentist, you may accidentally trigger anxiety that would not have occurred on its own. If you remain positive and view the upcoming event as an opportunity to meet someone new, your child may respond in the same manner.
The entire experience may be much smoother than you anticipate. Surprisingly, most kids actually don’t mind visiting their dentist. A questionnaire designed to assess children’s attitudes towards their dentists found that in the 9-12 year age group, 64 percent of the children surveyed like going to the dentist, only 11 percent didn’t care for the experience, with 12 percent initially afraid. The remainder were simply indifferent. The odds are pretty much stacked in your favor. To increase your odds of a smooth transition, you may want to try some of the following:
- Leave other children home if possible so you can focus on one child at a time
- Make a fun game out of counting how many times the dentist says “teeth,” or any other amusing distraction
- Take your child with you for your appointment. Make it fun and use positive body language
- Let your child bring a toy or favorite plush animal to show their new dentist friend
- Plan a reward or activity for after your visit as something else to look forward to
- Don’t associate the word dentist with the word hurt
Knowing What to Expect Builds Trust
When you and your child are discussing their upcoming dentist visit, you may be able to alleviate some of their apprehension by letting them know what to expect. Your youngster may be relieved to know that their first visit to meet their new friend is simply a chance to get to know each other. Dentists like to look at teeth and count them. Dentists like to show off their awesome tools and sometimes can even show their new young friends how the tools work or what they sound like.
Your Dentist Can Help Ease the Transition
Children can be quite sensitive to new sights and sounds. The children who have positive dental experiences early in their lives are less likely to develop a fear of dentists as they get older. If you are concerned about introducing an unfamiliar dentist to your child, let your dentist’s office know. They may have suggestions of their own that will help your kid feel less afraid about meeting their new dentist for the first time.
To alleviate children’s dental fears and apprehensions, it’s important to take the time to create a good rapport in a safe, non-threatening atmosphere. For pediatric and family dentistry in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, contact Simply Beautiful Smiles. We can help your child, and your entire family, make a smooth transition by providing high-quality, trusted family dental care. Schedule your appointment today!