It’s not surprising that kids are usually afraid of dentists. You have to go into a scary room with an unfamiliar person that pokes around your mouth with some pointy instruments. Scary, right? But, there’s no avoiding it, so it’s better to ease your kid’s fear while they’re still young than to watch them struggle with a phobia when they grow up. Here are some tips on how to help your kid overcome their fear of “scary” dentists.
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Find a dental office for your kid when they’re young. This will be their go-to dentist for whatever intervention they need and they will get to know their doctors. You can start taking your kids to the dentist as soon as their first tooth comes out. You can also read to them different children’s books about dentists and all the good things they do for kids. There are many nice ones, but try to avoid those that are too graphic. This way they’ll get used to the visits and potentially never develop the fear in the first place.
Talk to them
Don’t lie to your children. Don’t pretend you’re going to the park and then make a turn and end up at the dentist’s. They will only lose trust in you and start fearing that place even more. First, talk to your kid; explain what they can expect and how long you’ll be there. Don’t get into too many details (that’s the dentist’s job since they have more experience in how to adequately explain the procedures to young patients) and be positive about the experience. Don’t make any promises either, because if you say everything will be over in a second, and it doesn’t, you only risk letting your child down.
Don’t take your kid to watch during your appointments
Some parents think it’s a good idea for a kid to see what’s going on during a procedure before they sit in the chair themselves. That’s not so smart after all, because you’ll be taking them to a dentist’s office intended for adults, with graphic posters, scary instruments and sterile environment. Pediatric offices are usually full of colour, drawings and there’s always some kids’ show on the TV. Also, you might subconsciously feel anxious, and transfer that feeling to your child which they might later associate with the dentist.
Little tantrums are normal
It’s completely normal if your young child doesn’t want to be examined by a stranger. The whole experience is unfamiliar and confusing, so try to understand and be patient. There will be some crying and wiggling, but pediatric dentists know that’s normal, and will do everything they need to calm them down gently. Listen to them when they tell you to stay back or hold your kid’s hand for comfort. They are professionals after all.
Explain the importance of oral hygiene
Visits to a dentist are not a choice, they are necessary and obligatory, but you can explain to your kid just how much dentists do for us. They keep our teeth healthy and pearly white for a beautiful smile, and strong enough for eating. Explain just how important their retainer or invisible braces are and how they correct your smile, make your teeth healthy and straight, and help you chew better. If you insist on good oral hygiene in their youth, your kids will develop a habit of regular brushing and flossing in the future.
Visits to the dentist are indeed very important, especially for the kids’ young and developing teeth. You have to be patient and be there for your child during the visit and everything will go just fine. If they create some positive dentist experiences as kids, they will never be afraid to make regular appointments as adults.