If your very young child needs a dental procedure, you may feel worried and unsure about how to prepare them. Getting a baby ready for an operation seems especially impossible, since you can't explain what's going on. Fortunately, though you may not be able to give your toddler or baby a full understanding of dentistry, there are still things you can do to make the whole process easier on them.
Helping Babies Cope
Dental issues are not highly common in babies, but it's still recommended that all infants have a dental checkup when they reach 1 year of age in order to confirm that everything is coming in alright. It is likely at this checkup any problems with your baby's teeth or mouth will be noticed by the dentist, who can discuss with you the best solutions. In some cases, surgery is necessary.
The first step to helping your child cope is to allow many friends and relatives to hold the baby in the days before surgery. This will help your little one get used to being held by strangers, which can reduce stress during operations where the dentist or his assistant must hold the child.
Depending on the procedure itself, it may be possible for you to hold and soothe the baby while the dentist takes care of the problem. However, this may not always be possible. Still, it does no harm to ask the dentist whether or not you can hold the baby to keep it calm either during the operation or while the anesthetizing shot is administered. Knowing you are there won't completely calm the child, but it will provide a sense of security.
Preparing Your Toddler
Unlike babies, toddlers have some limited understanding of the world, so you can explain dental procedures to them. However, it's best to wait until 1-2 days before the actual operation to talk to your toddler, since their memories may not be strong enough otherwise.
When you describe the procedure to your child, be sure to use small, simple words. The explanation itself should likewise be small and simple, taking no more than 10 minutes. Afterwards, make sure your toddler understood what you said, and answer any questions they may have. When giving your explanation and answering questions, be sure to stress the positive: talk about the problem your child is having and how the surgery will fix it.
One good way to help your toddler know what to expect is to act out the surgery at home. Walk your child through the steps of the procedure and play the patient, acting out how you might feel at each step. At the end, it's important to act very happy and healthy to show the whole process will make your child happier in the long run. Don't be afraid to act pained or uncomfortable when playing pretend, either. Your child will feel more at ease if you assure them it's normal to cry or say "ouch."
Like babies, toddlers benefit from touch during and prior to dental procedures. Ask your dentist if you can hold your child's hand while the operation is underway. If your toddler is to receive anesthetic, the dentist may ask you to hold him or her in order to both soothe and prevent complications while administering the shot.
Even if your child can't fully understand what's going to happen, you can take steps to protect them from feeling overly stressed or scared. By familiarizing your child with different people, explaining to the best of your ability, and being there for them in the dentist's office, you should be able to greatly reduce the confusion they experience. Afterwards, if you reward them with their favorite treat or fun activity, they're sure to perk right up again. Click for more info .