Reluctance to go to the dentist is common today, even among adults. If you suffered through a negative incident as a child that stayed with you into adulthood, you may want to encourage a more positive experience for your child.
One proven way to reduce fear and anxiety about going to the dentist is to establish “dental buddies.” This is when an older sibling or friend helps your child look forward to dentist visits instead of dreading them. It’s possible thanks to the power of positive modeling.
What is Positive Modeling?
Positive modeling is when a mentor fosters another person, usually someone younger, and builds a trusting relationship with them. Buddy programs are designed to make a positive impact in a young person’s life.
According to Bright Future Foundation, youth involved with mentors tend to have higher self-esteem, better school attendance, improved grades, a heightened sense of right and wrong, and a stronger ability to get along with others. When implemented in regards to dental visits, positive modeling can greatly reduce fear and set your child up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
Start Dental Care Early
Pediatric dentists recommend that your child’s first dentist visit should be around her 1st birthday. This may seem early to you – and when you bring it up with your friends, they may agree – but starting early is the best way to both establish a routine for your child’s dental health and get her used to visiting the dentist early on.
Perhaps you have waited until your child is a little older to start routine dental visits. She might have special needs or a heightened fear of new experiences. Whatever the case, Dr. Evanson approaches your unique situation with care. The activities at your child’s first appointment depend on her age, anxiety level, and your dental concerns for her.
If nothing else, we try to at least complete a dental exam and apply a fluoride varnish during the visit. For extremely apprehensive children, we can simply start with providing a “ride in the big chair.” The bottom line is Dr. Evanson will never intensify a stressful situation to prevent creating the negative incident you want so badly for your child to avoid.
Establishing Dental Buddies
Having a friend or sibling set an example at the dentist office is incredibly helpful for your child. Schedule their appointments at the same time and have the child acting as the dental buddy go first. Accompany your child to the dentist chair and watch the dental buddy receive a tooth exam, cleaning and fluoride treatment. When your child realizes it’s an easy, stress-free procedure, it will be much easier for her to take a turn in the big chair.
Acting as a Dental Buddy
While it’s helpful for children to have mentors around their same age, your attitude toward going to the dentist also greatly affects your child’s perception of it. According to a study done in 2012 by scientists at the Rey Juan Carlos University of Madrid, fear of visiting the dentist can be passed from parent to child.
Take care of your attitude toward dental care because it plays a big role in determining how your child feels about going to the dentist. For example, you should make trips to the dentist a special outing, not a dreaded obligation. Pair it with something else special and fun, such as seeing a movie or going to the park.
If you’re looking for other tips to ease your child’s reluctance about going to the dentist, please contact Evanson DDS online or call our office at (720) 409-0008.Leave a reply →