How to Stay Calm YOURSELF When Taking Your Child to the Pediatric Dentist

Your 10-year-old son plays hockey. During a game, a tooth gets knocked out, and you have to take him to your family or pediatric dentist. It doesn’t seem to faze him much, but you are more than a little nervous. You had an avulsed tooth as a child, and remember the appointment well. It hurt, and you don’t want to your son to have that kind of experience.

Before you start telling him about your ordeal, stop. Think about what your motivation is for telling him. Will it help him, or do you just need to express your anxiety? Try these tips to help manage your stress and not pass it on to your child.

Count Down…or Up

Not to 10 – that’s not long enough. Try counting to 100. Feel your breath while counting. Think positive thoughts between numbers: The dentist is a helper; newer, better treatments cause less pain; my child will be as good as new when this is over…

Breathing Exercises:

When you feel the urge to panic about your kid’s appointment, start taking some deep breathes. Breathing exercises can slow your pulse and calm you down. Try this:

  1. Breathe in slowly through your nose and into your diaphragm. Envision that the air you’re breathing in is rosy, golden and calming. 
  2. Hold it in for three seconds.
  3. Breathe out through your mouth, releasing feelings of anxiety and negativity.

Stretch It Out:

If counting and breathing exercises alone don’t help your dental anxiety leading up to a child’s appointment, yoga might work. It helps you stretch and relax your muscles and release the tension caused by anxiety. You can Google “local yoga classes” to find a group class, or you can find a streaming session on YouTube or Amazon Prime. When your child sees that you are calm on the way to the dentist, he will be calm, too.

Before Your Visit

Take some time to prepare your child, but talk in general terms:

  • Explain that the dentist is a helper, or a friend. 
  • Tell her what to expect: sitting in the chair, letting the dentist examine her teeth.
  • Find an age-appropriate book about going to the dentist, like My Dentist, My Friend, by P.K. Halinan

Let Him Go

You may be used to going into the dental exam room with your child—after all, you’ve been doing this with her since her first teeth came in. But if your child is old enough, say between 8 and 10, let her go back to the dental chair without you. This shows you think of her as a big kid, and allows her to have treatment without your anxious hovering. She and the dentist will both appreciate the vote of confidence!

Whether you are bringing your child to the dentist for a regular cleaning or for a more emergent problem, it’s important not to stress him out.  An anxious child or parent makes for a difficult examination.Hopefully, these strategies will help both of you to relax and have an easy visit with your friend, the dentist!

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