How To Help Your Child Overcome Their Fear of the Dentist
We’ve all been there: we bring our child into a medical office, and they instantly become afraid, and we spend 20 minutes trying to calm them. If your child has a dentist appointment coming up, start preparing them now, so they have time to prepare for it emotionally. Here’s how to help your child overcome their fear of the dentist.
Understand Their Perspective
Before you start taking steps to help your child overcome their fear, it’s essential to understand why they’re afraid in the first place. Take some time to sit down and talk to your child about what makes the dentist scary for them.
Dentists help keep our teeth and gums healthy, clean, and strong. To do that, they need to take safety precautions and use special tools to perform their duty. In other words, dentists need to use sharp, pointy objects in our mouths to remove bacteria.
Children are afraid of anything they think might hurt them. These irrational thoughts may come from TV, video games, or even their friends. Sitting down with them and debunking those irrational thoughts will help ease their anxiety a bit more.
Meet the Staff Before Your Appointment
Before taking your child to their first dentist appointment, let them meet the dentist and staff. That way, they’ll build a foundation of trust and communication, helping them feel more comfortable before going to the appointment.
Offer Them Something To Look Forward To
Reward your child for being brave by taking them to the zoo or the park right after their dentist appointment. This will reinforce their visits positively. Also, most pediatric dentist offices offer a treat or toy to reward good behavior in the dentist’s chair.
Stay Calm, Stay Positive
Children often feed off their parent’s energy. They may think, “If mommy or daddy is scared, then I should be too!” If you’re stressed and not hiding it well, it may stress out your child more.
What you want to do is provide a calm environment for them. That includes adjusting your behavior and attitude to show them that they don’t have to worry.
Instill Good Dental Hygiene
Dentists recommend visiting them every six months to a year, but if a child suffers from poor oral hygiene, the dentist may need to perform additional dental procedures. Bacteria can multiply if your child doesn’t take proper care of their teeth. If bacteria is left untreated, it can potentially cause more harmful effects and more dentist visits. Try creating a routine around your child’s oral hygiene, like enforcing the “brush your teeth every morning and night” rule with some music or make funny faces while you floss together; have fun with it! You can head into any local drugstore and find your child’s favorite TV character on a toothbrush to help encourage them to brush their teeth!
Teaching your child the benefits of dentist visits will reinforce their mindset of keeping up their health and help your child overcome their fear of the dentist!