Fear of the dentist affects 36% of the adult population. From inconvenience to pain to a lack of information, hating the dentist is an experience many of us can empathize with.
Why should kids be any different? They share the same concerns as adults, compounded by a lower pain tolerance, less life experience, and an undeveloped understanding of how the benefits of a medical procedure sometimes outweigh the pain.
That doesn’t mean that makes it any easier for parents, though. Dragging your children to a kids’ orthodontist is probably much harder than it should be.
That’s where a little encouragement can come in. By identifying your child’s fears and walking them through the process, you can get your kids excited to go to the orthodontist!
Do Your Research
The first part of reducing your child’s fear is making sure they have nothing to be scared of. For a kid’s first orthodontist, checking their reputation with kids is crucial.
This first experience can cement how they feel about dental care well into adulthood, which can have a negative impact on their health in the future. That’s why it’s so important to make this first experience a positive one!
Start by researching easy terms, like ‘kids orthodontist near me’ or ‘kids orthodontist greer’. You’ll be able to see Google ratings and reviews in the search results.
When doing this, pay special attention to parental reviews. Did the orthodontist make them feel comfortable by chatting with them, passing out stickers, or explaining the procedure?
Sometimes, the best kid’s orthodontist is one that can get down on their level and explain what’s going on.
Explain The Process
Sometimes, fear of the dentist is simply fear of the unknown. No one likes to be confused or uncertain in new situations. Routine and stability are important for children, which means explaining the procedure can help reduce fear.
Even if you’re familiar with the dental process, you may be uncertain about what that process actually looks like for your child.
Here is what usually occurs. For starters, you’ll sit in the waiting room and fill out paperwork. As a parent, it’s important that you bring all of your child’s health insurance or dental savings plan.
Once it’s your turn, you and your child will be called back. The process usually starts with X-rays and an evaluation. Dental professionals note that for some kids, the X-ray is the scariest part of the entire procedure.
You can explain to your child that the X-ray process is just a fancy way of taking pictures of their jaw so that the orthodontist can see it better. After this process is over, the orthodontist will conduct an initial exam.
At this point, you can share your concerns with the orthodontist. Is the child complaining of tooth pain, or prone to cavities?
Depending on the type of orthodontist appointment scheduled for your child, they may start processes related to braces, bite correction, and so forth.
Prepare Your Child
Even the calmest, best-behaved child can have a meltdown. In a new environment, in a situation they’re anxious about, children are more stressed than usual.
You can’t remove all the stressors that are inherent to an orthodontist appointment. What you can do, however, is make the experience as fun as possible.
Start by making sure your child gets a good night’s sleep. Often, a behavioral meltdown is just a result of exhaustion and frustration compounding.
Make sure they wake up on time in the morning, too. This ensures that you have plenty of time to give them a solid breakfast and pack a bag before they head out.
Packing a bag full of distractions can help when they’re sitting in a quiet waiting room. It can also keep them from playing with the toys provided in the room, which can sometimes be a hotbed of germs.
Pick some of their favorite toys and books, ones that are conducive to being in a waiting room. Avoid the noisier ones, but pack a good variety depending on your child’s age.
You can also load a favorite show onto your phone, and pack a pair of headphones. This gives your child something to do while you’re filling out their paperwork in the waiting room.
Focus on the Reward
Of course, the goal is to raise children that take care of their health for its’ own sake. This is the long game, but for toddlers, the long game is too far off.
If you’re dealing with younger children, focus on the potential reward. Some children will be obsessed with the stickers some orthodontists hand out to their younger patients.
Depending on how long your child has been seeing the orthodontists, some providers give out reward programs. For instance, it’s important that your child learns to brush their teeth for two minutes a day, twice a day.
This is the bare minimum of appropriate dental hygiene and can help prevent cavities and other tooth concerns moving forward. But it’s especially difficult to motivate young children to pick up a habit that many adults don’t even do.
This is where you can ask your child’s orthodontist about reward programs for younger patients. Sometimes, if a young patient checks off all the boxes on their tooth brushing chart, they’ll get a special treat.
Whether it’s a coupon to a local pizza place or a special stuffed animal, focusing on the reward can make trips to the orthodontist that much easier.
Finding A Kids’ Orthodontist
Whether you’re Googling ‘orthodontist kids near me’ or asking friends for recommendations, finding the right kids’ orthodontist is important. A personalized service that provides a range of family services might suit your needs best.
Focus on finding a place that’s highly rated, nearby, and works for your child’s specific needs. This will give you confidence in your orthodontist, which you can pass onto your kid.
If you’d like to set up an appointment today, contact us! We’re excited to see you.