Any type of pediatric appointment can make BOTH you and your child anxious. Check out my suggestions for choosing pediatric providers, dental tips, and how to minimize any associated anxiety.
I’m writing this post as I sit in the waiting area of my child’s pediatric dentist. Let me first just say how important it is that your child’s dentist is “child-friendly”. I mean really, shouldn’t that be a mandate? Yet, I have come across some more serious and hard-mannered pediatric “experts” that, I hate to say it — but they stink.
Not only do they frustrate you by not being all that kind and likable, but they scare your kid by having no child-like mannerisms that your little one can relate too. Of course, if they are great at their “craft” and an “expert” in their field, they will more than suffice in caring for your child.
Our pediatric dentist is truly amazing. You can absolutely see his love for children in every single interaction he has with them, and with the parents. He will literally get down on his knees to meet your child at their level. He will make a goofy face, or more often than not, multiple ones, just to hear your child laugh — which he knows will ease your mind too. He makes learning about dental care fun and exciting and more than anything, he knows that children are more willing to participate in something that they feel an equal part of, with a partner who both supports and empowers them.
Why is my daughter at the dentist today? Well, I am embarrassed to say…she has some cavities and she needs some sealants. While maintaining the hygiene habits of three little ones in addition to my own self-care, I sometimes drop the ball, or should we say the floss.
What is your guess on whether or not my child cried before or during her appointment today? I was expecting some tears, but there were none. Thank goodness, right?!
When our children need to have any type of procedure done, be it medical, dental, or even psychological, us parents can become a wreck. But, we have to combat our initial instinct to worry, and for lack of a better term “freak out”. I am a worry-wart by nature, always have been and always will be. Unfortunately, my lack of calmness and “go-with-the-flow” nature can negatively affect my children.
Luckily, for my daughter and her dentist (and of course my spouse, as he is the one that regularly has to deal with my crazy and unrealistic worries), I made the conscious effort and decision to underplay today’s 90-minute dental procedure.
Here are my top 5 tips for caring for your child’s dental hygiene:
- Floss, floss, floss. That is what got us into trouble! My daughter’s cavities were not on the top of her teeth, but were in between her teeth — who knew!
- Brush, at minimum, two times a day. If you can swing it, brush three times.
- Less candy. Bummer I know, but come on, slow it down some.
- ‘Show and Tell’ time. Of course, do this in an age-appropriate way, but ‘show and tell’ them the reality of what can happen if you don’t take consistent care of your oral hygiene.
- Model good dental habits. It’s that simple — if they don’t see you brush and floss regularly, they will think they don’t have to either. Maybe do it together when possible.
Here are my top 5 tips for choosing the best pediatric service provider (dental/medical/psychological) for your child:
- Do your research. Don’t just choose the closest provider to your home that accepts your insurance. Vet their experience, as much as possible.
- Read reviews. It is so important to get a true grasp of your options; read through testimonials regarding other families’ experiences with the provider.
- Talk to your neighbors — or co-workers, or other parents at your children’s school. Word of mouth is often the easiest way.
- Feel free to interview the provider. Not all parents know or implement this, but you may make an appointment to simply meet the provider, with or without your child, to see if they might be a good fit for your family.
- Go with your gut. If you get a bad vibe, it’s likely not a good fit.
Here are my top 5 suggestions for minimizing any anxieties regarding medical, dental, or psychological procedures.
- Be honest, but not overly-detailed. For example, I informed my daughter about how I assumed the procedure would go, and gave her suggestions and examples for how to handle each part of it, but kept my descriptions simple.
- Under-play when appropriate. Of course, no one wants to talk about the “numbing needle,” so we didn’t — not exactly at least. We talked about how they would use some sort of medicine to help her feel no pain, but that the “laughy gas” would ensure she didn’t even feel the medicine.
- Don’t stress YOURSELF. Our kids totally pick up on our fears, so don’t show them that you are worried (as best you can!)
- Read a book on the type of surgery or procedure when possible, as this will help your child understand the order of events that is scheduled to take place.
- Love on them – A LOT. This will make both of you feel better.
Looking for more real-life tips and suggestions? Check out my post on Infant/Toddler Surgery for a real-life parent guide to ear tubes, adenoidectomy and tonsillectomies.
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