8 Tips To Help Kids Overcome Their Fear Of Dentists
For small children, going to a dentist can be a scary thing. They often think that something uncomfortable or painful might happen. Although the fear of dentists is common among kids, it’s something that they can overcome. With your help, they can move past this obstacle at the right time. If it’s your first time to bring your child to a dentist, here are the eight tips to help them overcome their fear of dental care professionals.
1. Start when your kids are young
The earlier your child interacts with a dentist, the better. If you take them to see a dentist at a young age, they become more familiar with how they should handle a dental experience. Don’t just take them to a dentist for tooth extractions and the like. Instead, you can visit the dentist with your child for a simple checkup which won’t involve any scary or complicated procedures. The more early visits you have, the more they learn that going to a dentist is indeed essential, safe, and fun.
2. Be careful with your words
Watch your words when you and your child will go to the dentist. Avoid using terms that will make them more anxious, such as “hurt,” “pain,” or “shot.” Instead, you can utter positive statements containing words like “strong, healthy teeth” to make the appointment fun. If you’re not sure what to say, let the personnel talk to your child to help them ease the anxiety they may be feeling and help them get through a scary situation.
Moreover, you should know how to address your child’s concerns beforehand. Try to explain and answer their questions as best as you can without frightening them. Keep the conversation simple while setting their expectations properly. Avoid causing unnecessary anxiety by being mindful of how you discuss the dental visit with them.
3. Let your child read books about dentists
You can use books written about dentists to help your child overcome their fear. There are numerous books written for children who will have a dental appointment for the first time, most of which are illustrated or picture books that could pique their interest and make their learning about dentists more enjoyable. These books usually provide an outline about what to do when you’re at the dentist’s clinic, as well as the importance of regular dental checkup and treatment.
4. Always stay with your child.
It’s important never to leave your child’s side from start to finish. The moment they sit on the dental chair, stay nearby to help them remain calm. It can be an effective way of assisting them in fighting their fear of the dentist. Some children tend to feel more anxious when they are alone in a new place or environment without being able to run to their parents for comfort and safety. Your presence can prevent them from acting out, throwing a tantrum, or becoming belligerent towards the dentist.
5. Do some role-playing
Another way to help alleviate your child’s fear is to act out that particular situation. For example, you can do some role-playing by setting up a dentist’s chair in the living room and by pretending to be a dentist. Act like you’re looking at your child’s mouth and count their teeth. Through this role-playing session, they’ll feel more prepared for the upcoming visit.
6. Reward your child after a successful visit
Praising and rewarding your child can help reduce the amount of fear they may feel in going to a dentist. Tell them about the favorite toy or food they’ll receive for getting their teeth cleaned bravely. By using positive reinforcement, you’re already preparing your kid to be strong whenever there are dental procedures that have be done immediately.
7. Hire a family dentist
Having a family dentist can help your child overcome their fear of dental examinations and procedures as these dentists specialize in family dental practices focused on putting the child’s mind at ease. In addition, your family dentist can establish a closer rapport with your child and you can see for yourself if they are trustworthy. With someone who checks on the family’s oral hygiene, you encourage your child to have positive dental experiences moving forward. For instance, if your family dentist offers free visits and kids’ programs, you’re also making every visit a fun and exciting one.
8. Be ready with a backup plan
You can’t stop your child from feeling afraid during a dental visit. When this happens, have a backup plan to help them overcome their anxiety. In most cases, you can let the dentist meet your child before the visit. The dentist can share some information about the things that your young one will be interested in. They can talk about their favorite cartoon character or anything that makes the child smile. Remember, changing their mindset can help eliminate their fears along the way.
From a child’s point of view, a new experience like going to the dentist for the first time is something that terrifies them a lot. However, after keeping these tips in mind, dealing with dental visits will no longer be a frightening thing for your little one. As long as you’ll stay on their side and encourage them to be strong, your child will feel more comfortable and relaxed throughout the visit.