Visits to the pediatric dentist don’t always go as smoothly as planned when the child has trouble behaving and cooperating (at the dentist and/or before arriving to the office). Rest assured that uncooperative behavior can be common especially in children, and pediatric dentists are trained in aspects of behavior management for this very purpose. Furthermore, there are other things that you can do as a parent or guardian, to help calm your child down and promote cooperation before even arriving at the dentist’s office.
How Can I Calm My Child Down Before Their Visit to the Pediatric Dentist?
Perspective is everything, and it’s important to remember that if your child is acting out, there is usually an underlying reason behind it. Sometimes they’re reacting out of fear, or anger, and it can really help to get to the bottom of what is causing them to feel that way.
In the meantime, there are a variety of ways to help teach your child how to cope better with any negative emotions that they are experiencing before their pediatric dental visit. Some of the following methods can help promote healthy coping behaviors:
Practice breathing techniques such as the 4-7-8 technique (*Best in Crisis Situations*)
What It Is: 4-7-8 refers to the seconds that you breathe in, hold the breath, and let the breath out through the mouth slowly. With this method, you breathe in for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 7 seconds, and let it out slowly through the mouth for 8 seconds.
Why We Do It: This technique helps to slow the heart rate and bring the blood pressure down. It is a great tool to use when children are either about to have a panic attack or are currently having a panic attack.
Try positive pre-visit imagery
What It Is: Positive pre-visit imagery refers to showing positive images of the dentist to your child before their appointment.
Why We Do It: This can help to provide a visual representation of what the child can expect to see at the dentist’s office, lessening some of the “fear of the unknown” and helping to familiarize them with the idea of a visit to the pediatric dentist in a positive way.
What It Is: This is the practice of allowing your child to watch real video footage of other children around a similar age, at the dentist’s office, behaving cooperatively and calmly.
Why We Do It: Often times when we see others that have similar characteristics to us perform an action, we may actually copy that action. This is also referred to as “social proofing” and it has shown measurable effects on human behavior. Observing an actual dental appointment can also help dispel any fears or negative notions of a dental appointment.
Positive reinforcement (*Can be used to encourage behavior before, at, and after visiting the dentist*)
What It Is: Using positive vocal tones, facial expressions, affection, and/or phrases when a child demonstrates a “good” behavior in order to encourage that behavior in the future.
Why We Do It: Exclaiming “I am so proud of you for sitting patiently and listening so well at the dentist!” in a happy tone shows the child that they did a good job, and they internalize this and feel positively about themselves as well as the experience.
When it comes to bringing your child to their pediatric dentist’s office, getting through their fears and negative ideas can be the hardest part. Advanced Children’s Dentistry is a pediatric dental office in Garden City, NY where Dr. Sybil Padavathil provides a comforting, educational, and kid-friendly environment for all of her patients. Call us at 516-758-KIDS (5437) to schedule an appointment with our pediatric dentist today.