Managing Your Child’s Fear of the Dentist Jun 6, 2018
Children have a lot to learn about the world, and some of it is scary. Many people have stories from very early on detailing bad experiences that led them to mistrust their dental practitioners. As young minds are quite impressionable, children are susceptible to misplacing their hard feelings about a single incident toward anything they deem similar. However, as we know, visiting the dentist is essential in ensuring dental health. So how steer your child in the direction of trusting their dentist?
When it all comes down to it, early education and awareness is the best way to prevent your child developing a fear of the dentist. Try these approaches for making your child feel comfortable:
Explain what to expect. As they say, knowledge is power, and when your child has this particular knowledge about the dentist, he or she will find it less frightening. Explain what will happen while they are at the dentist. Avoid emotional words such as “pain” or “hurt,” but it’s best not to lie to them, either. Consider reading your child a book about going to the dentist (we found an excellent list here) or watching a show with familiar characters (e.g., Elmo) talking about a dental visit.
Convey the importance of dental health. Your child may be under the impression that a visit to a health professional is a sort of punishment, but make sure they understand why a check-up is necessary. You should start out by clarifying that the dentist is there to keep their pearly whites strong because they will need their teeth forever.
Start early. When your child meets a dentist at a young age, the office can give them a sense of familiarity as they are growing up. Your child should visit the dentist as soon as teeth emerge. While most people think that seems far too early, those first visits are all about getting your child comfortable with the dentist. While no cleanings take place, your child can sit in the chair and get used to the dentist looking into his or her mouth.
Bring a comforting object. If your child has a special blanket or stuffed animal that keeps anxiety at bay, it’s OK to bring it along. You’ll be allowed to stay with your child during his/her visit as well.
What questions do you have about helping your child at the dentist? Ask our team when you call for your next appointment.