For some children, a dentist’s appointment can create a huge amount of fear and anxiety. As a parent, you are most likely aware of how important it is to take care of your child’s oral health but forcing your anxiety-ridden child into the dentist’s chair can be a difficult task. If you are struggling to get your kid to the dentist due to their dental phobia, here are a few tips to help them relax and get over their fear of the dentist.
Bring them to the dentists while they are young
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that parents take their children to the dentist as soon as a first tooth appears, and at least before they turn one year old. By taking your child to the dentist at a young age it becomes a routine. Not only will they not be fearful, but you can also avoid potential tooth issues before they progress. Although this might not help you if you already have a five-year-old with a dental phobia, there are other steps you can take.
Play the “dentist” game at home
Children love to role-play and “play make-believe”. If you implement a “dentist” game long before their dental visit, they will have a better chance of looking at their visit as a game. Allow your child to clean your teeth with a real toothbrush, and then clean theirs. This will show them there is nothing to fear about the dentist since they have already done it themselves.
Use positive words
Try not to use words such as “painful” or “hurt” even if it is in the context of “don’t worry it won’t hurt you.” It is better to use phrases such as “we are going to check your smile and count your teeth.” This will trigger positive reactions rather than the possible negative reactions from words associated with negativity.
Even if your child is stressed, crying or whining, try to stay calm. Your children mimic your reactions so if you are yelling and getting upset, it might only make matters worse. Also, try not to feel embarrassed if your child is fussing. The dental staff should be used to this as many children have dental fears.
Communicate and do not lie
Make sure to let your child know far in advance regarding their dental appointment so they have time to prepare. You do not want to suddenly let them know you are at the dentist when you pull up, as this might be surprising, and they could react with fear.
Another aspect, although it is tempting, is to not tell your child that “everything will be fine.” Yes, you want to comfort them, but you do not want to lie. They might, in fact, have a cavity or need a tooth pulled, and, in this case, things might be a bit more scary or painful. If you had originally lied to them then they will no longer trust you regarding the dentist, and this might only exacerbate their dental phobias. Be simple in what you say regarding the dentist but be sure to give them enough notice in advance to prepare.
Whether it is the first time for your child, or you are simply looking to bring your child to a new dentist, contact Arbor Dental, an Arvada dentist with a vast experience treating children.