How to Deal With Kids Who Won't Open Up For The Dentist

Posted on: 11 February 2016


No matter how positively you prepare your kids for their first dental appointments, some will simply refuse to open their mouths when they see a dentist. Some kids may feel intimidated or scared by the dental environment; others may just be having an awkward moment. If your child refuses to play ball, try the following tips.

Make Things More Comfortable For Them

Some children freak out when they're expected to sit in the dentist's chair for the first time, especially when it reclines back. Your dentist may encourage you to have your child sitting on your lap for the first examination. If your dentist doesn't suggest this, and you feel the chair is an issue, suggest this as an alternative. It may just make your child feel comfortable enough to open up.

Let Them Learn By Example

Kids may feel better about having a check-up if they see other people doing it first. If your child is a reluctant mouth-opener, try scheduling a check-up directly after your own appointment. That way, you can show them that opening up for the dentist is no big deal. Putting older siblings in the chair first is also a good idea. Younger kids often want to be like their older brothers and sisters and may lose their inhibitions if their siblings set the right example.

Tip: Dentists may also be able to do a check-up on a favourite bear or doll before working on a child. A younger kid may be happier opening up if Teddy gets a clean bill of health first.

Make Sure They Aren't Tired

Kids often act up when they are tired. You'll stand a better chance of getting your child to behave if you schedule appointments in the morning or after an afternoon nap when your child is awake, alert and happy. Having a check-up at the end of the day when kids are tired, grumpy and not in the mood to do as they are told may not turn out so well.

Allow the Dentist to Take Control

Kids feel more comfortable with dentists if they can build good relationships with them; they may also be more likely to do something they don't want to do if the dentist tells them to do it and you don't interfere. When you go in for a check-up, try to let your dentist take the lead and back up any instructions given to your child.

Don't Reward a Mouth That Won't Open

Many dental surgeries give out stickers to kids after appointments to reward them for good behaviour. If your dentist offers a sticker after an appointment where your child wouldn't cooperate, don't take it. If you calmly tell your child that stickers are for children who open their mouths and let the dentist take a look, you may build up enough sticker desire for your child to play ball next time.

Ask Your Dentist's Advice

If your child consistently won't open up for your dentist over a number of appointments, ask your dentist to recommend possible solutions. In some cases, you may just need to give them a little time; in others, it may be better to take your child to a paediatric dentist with specialist training in treating children.