Published on April 18, 2018, Updated on April 18, 2018
For a child, going to the doctor can be scary because of the thought of shots and needles. Going to the dentist or orthodontist is often no different for a child, especially if they have already had a bad experience. However, with the right help and education from parents, children can learn to like visiting the dentist. Using the right vocabulary and explaining what a child will experience can help them relax when they need a cavity filled or if they are getting braces for the first time. Find out ways you can make a dental or orthodontic visit more relaxing for your little one!
An infant should start seeing the dentist within 6 months of getting their first tooth. Children and adults alike need to see a dentist twice a year, or every 6 months. They won’t need to see an orthodontist until around age 7 or 8, when they have started losing teeth. This is a time when we can correct bite and alignment problems early before they become problems later on. Seeing a dentist and orthodontist often is vital to your child’s oral health and for them to have a healthy mouth for life. However, these visits can be intimidating or even “scary” for a little one if they are not done right.
Pediatric dentistry is a great way to help ease children into dental work. Not all dentists work on children, or work well with them. A pediatric office will provide a setting where many other children are getting their teeth checked. Our office is full of bright colors, pictures, toys, and friendly office staff who are trained to work with children. If your child fears the dentist, take them to a pediatric dentist, and their experience will be vastly different. Many dental offices are bare with plain colors and many overwhelming tools. With bright colors, friendly staff and things that are familiar to children, a pediatric office can help make a child feel at home and safe.
Children do best at the dentist when they know what to expect. We like to make every child feel welcome and at home in our office. For children of many ages (especially the little ones), parents accompany their child to our dental chair and stay with them during their dental work. Young toddlers and especially infants can even sit in their parent’s lap for dental exams and similar services. This vastly improves a child’s perception of a dental office, and helps them to feel safe. Eventually, our patients start to have their exams without having to sit in a parent’s lap because they feel comfortable.
We are careful to explain all procedures and tools to a child without intimidating them. Yes, there are shots and drills in the dental part of our office. However, we use terms such as “sleepy juice”, “whistly toothbrush” and more instead of using “shot”, “drill” or other terms. We also practice “Tell-Show-Do”, where we tell your child what will happen, we show them how we do a procedure, and then we do it. This eases a child’s fears of the unknown and helps make their dental or orthodontic work much easier.
For most children, going to the orthodontist will be much different than seeing a dentist. Generally, a dental office looks different than an orthodontic office. There are separate sections for individual patients in a dental office, where the dentist meets one-on-one with each patient in a private setting. More dental services (especially ones that require anesthesia) are done in that setting. However, an orthodontic office is much more relaxed.
When children come into an orthodontic office, they will see several chairs all in a large room together. The orthodontist rotates from one patient to another, checking braces, tightening appliances and making sure bite and alignment look great in a patient. There are no shots or drills, and not very many “scary-looking” tools lying around. There are generally more colors and patients can see one-another. This is often easier for young children, as they get to see that there are other young children in a room with them. They can observe the orthodontist looking at other patient’s mouths and can see that there is nothing scary about their visits. It’s a very open and free atmosphere that helps children feel at ease. Because we are a dental and orthodontic office, we strive to have that gentle and easy-going feeling for both our dental and orthodontic work services for patients.
Getting dental and orthodontic work done is just a part of life. Some children will fear the dental office or orthodontic work, whereas other children will not. Returning to the office and making a pattern of having your child’s dental health checked will eventually become routine for them. Even children who fear the dentist or orthodontist will start to feel more at ease the more the go.
If your child fears dental or orthodontic work, let us know. We can get our best hygienists to help make your child laugh and feel at ease and to explain anything and everything to them that they may have questions about. When children know what things mean, what to expect, and know what work will be done, they don’t have to fear the unknown. Your help is also crucial for preparing children for dental and orthodontic work. You set the example for them. If you fear having your teeth looked at, so will they. If you are at ease, they can be at ease as well. For all our tips and tricks for helping prepare children for dental or orthodontic work (or simply coming to visit us), call Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics today at (720) 887-6003!