August 19, 2023
Dr. Neelon Patel has a lot of tricks up her sleeves to help children feel relaxed (and even happy) during their visit. But, as she often tells parents, how you talk about dentistry and oral health at home can influence a child's experience and behavior a lot.
So, if you know that your kid needs a filling, try using some of these tips to prepare them for the procedure.
One of the reasons children get anxious before dental treatments is because they don't know what to expect. They may know they have a cavity (something bad) and the dentist will need to treat it (but how?).
Try to explain in simple terms what will happen and why it's important to treat the tooth.
Don't minimize the process or lie to them to make them feel better. Simply tell them what the doctor will do and what they might feel while reassuring them that they are safe.
Your child will be better prepared for the treatment if they are allowed to express and process their emotions freely.
You can talk to your child and ask them how they feel. You can assure them that it's normal to feel scared and try to think together of the best ways they can cope with their fear.
If your child is too young to tell you how they feel, you can help them process their emotions through role-playing. Use dolls or other toys and play dentist together. Switch roles and let your child be both the dentist and the patient.
"I told you that if you don't brush your teeth you will get cavities. Now you need a filling!"
If your child perceives the treatment as a punishment for not brushing their teeth, they may become more anxious about it.
Explain to them why cavities happen and why it's important to treat them. Don't make them feel guilty that they have cavities, but assure them that you will try better together to keep a clean and healthy mouth.
While your words and encouragement certainly help, pack a comfort item too. Whether it's a soft toy or a blanket, these items might help them feel safer during the treatment.
Your child is already stressed and if you are late to the appointment and rush them through the process, they may become even more anxious.
Try to arrive earlier than scheduled so your child can get used to the office and the staff.