Does your child fear the dentist? If they do, then there’s a big possibility that such a fear came from either a bad experience or from hearing someone talk of a bad dental experience. A trip to the dentist should not be something that is dreaded. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to help your child to overcome such a fear. How do you do this? Here are some tips that may come in handy:
Teach them that dentists are not people to be feared by reading a book about dentists to them – a visit to the library and getting books that are about visiting a dentist may help prepare a child for what will happen in the clinic. Ask your librarian for suggestions. Let them know what age your child is and they should be able to find several good selections. Books that talk about what dentists do to help keep teeth healthy and clean may help a child understand why a visit to the dentist is necessary.
Try not to pass on your fear to your child – sometimes, a child’s fear of the dentist can actually come from a parent. If you or the child’s other parent are scared of the dentist, don’t let your child know of this fear. Do not tell them stories of your bad experiences with dentists. Showing your child that you are afraid of the dentist can reinforce their anxiety and make them even more scared of coming in for routine procedures.
Start taking your child to the dentist at an early age – it is suggested that you take your child to a dentist the very moment their first teeth start to show. Some even suggest that as soon as your child turns one, a visit to a dental professional should be on your agenda. Whichever tack you choose, taking your kid to the dentist at an early age will help them get used to the idea sooner, which will help in keeping fear of such visits at bay.
When your child asks questions about dentists, keep your answers simple – when a child asks about what will happen at the dentist’s office, answer as positively and as simply as you can. You do not need to elaborate or go into detail. You should also try to avoid words that can make them fear the trip. Examples of these words are pain, shots, bleed or hurt.
Don’t reward a child for going to the dentist – as much as you would like to promise your kid a treat or reward for going to the dentist, this is something you should avoid. It sends your kid the wrong message, that allowing you to take them to the dentist is worthy of a bribe of some sort. They have to think that going to a dental professional is a must for healthy teeth, and is something they should do for their own good.
Find a dentist who can show that they should not be feared – it is normal for children to be afraid of something – it can be of small, creepy crawlies, of being away from their parents, or of getting hurt. Making them believe that a dentist is not someone to fear is half the battle won. Finding a dentist who knows how to handle children, and how to put them at ease, is another thing you need to do.
With regular visits, and when they see that a dentist is not someone to fear, a child will eventually overcome anxiety. They may not even develop such a fear, and in really good cases, they may even look forward to their dental trips,
Those are just some of the many good practices that you can use to bolster anxiety-free dental visits for your kids. Keep in mind that assurance, transparency and motivation are the keys to this exercise. Use these elements and you should be good to go.