How to Help Your Child Overcome Fear of the Dentist
Going to the dentist can be a scary prospect for some children—and for their parents, too! Fortunately, there are many ways to help kids overcome a dental phobia (or at least, make the appointment process a little easier). Learn more below from our Sherrill’s Ford pediatric dentist.
Start Them Early
Many parents aren’t aware that kids should have their first dental check-up by their first birthday (or by the time their first tooth emerges, whichever comes first). While little actual dental work is performed in these visits, they are still crucial, as they help your child become acclimated to the dental environment. The younger your child is when they begin seeing the dentist, the more they will come to see it as an ordinary, routine part of everyday life.
Set the Appointment Strategically
If possible, schedule your appointment in the morning, when young children are most alert and fresh. Tantrums and breakdowns are more likely to happen when the child is hungry, cranky, or over-stimulated, so keep that in mind as you plan your day. Be aware, too, that if your child becomes fearful or upset while in the dentist’s office, the best course of action may be to reschedule. Forcing the appointment to continue will establish that the dentist office is a place where upsetting things happen, and start a negative cycle of anxiety and avoidance.
Before an upcoming appointment, talk to your child about the approaching event and try to build excitement and understanding. Picture books about teeth and tooth care can help prepare kids for what’s to come in an environment that’s already familiar. You might consider sharing interesting facts about shark teeth, tiger teeth or dinosaur teeth, or even roleplaying “dentist’s office” with a stuffed animal as the patient.
Show No Fear
Remember that most children do not have much experience at the dentist’s office, so they’ll take their cue on how to react by observing you. If you’re worried or afraid (not of the dentist, of course, but about a temper tantrum) don’t let that worry show, lest your child pick up on your anxieties and adopt them. On a similar note, never let a child overhear you express fear or worry about your own dental appointment or procedure. While they are still learning and growing, always stay positive, positive, positive whenever they are in earshot!
Keep Your Cool
If the visit doesn’t go as planned, and your child cries, keeps his mouth shut, or refuses to sit in the chair, resist the urge to scold them. Stay calm and be aware that pediatric dentists are accustomed to all kinds of reactions, both good and bad. After the visit, talk with your child about why they acted out and what steps you can take together next time to prevent it from happening again.
Choose a Pediatric Dentist in Sherrill’s Ford
The easiest way to ensure your child has a good time at the dentist is to choose a pediatric dentist office, such as Sherrill’s Ford Pediatric Dentistry! Our colorful, toy-filled offices are designed to relax little ones and keep them occupied while waiting. Our super-friendly team is trained in child communication and child psychology as well as dentistry, so we are best equipped to make your child’s dental visit as fun as possible! To schedule an appointment with us, please click here.