Dentists Can Be Scary
Understandably, some children are not fans of the dentist and they should never get into trouble for expressing their discomfort about the fact that they do not like the dentist. So, how do you avoid getting to this point in the first place? How should you make your child comfortable with the dentist? Below are 5 tips for you, your dentist, and your children!
Start Them Early
Just like riding a bike, being exposed to the ocean, petting dogs, or going to a parade, getting your child acclimated to different environments and experiences is important to start from a young age. Exposing your child to even the idea of the dentist can help calm any underlying anxiety that could arise with experiencing something new. Going consistently from an early age is much more to simply get them ready for someone to invade their personal space.
- Encourage the dentist to be a place of familiarity
- Start routine
- Build trust with the dental area
- It is encouraged to start this routine before their first birthday
Read Encouraging Dental Books
Children love it when they’re read too at a young age! Don’t take that for granted and turn storytime into positive subliminal messaging. When your child sees their favorite book characters going to the dentist and being happy to do so, they will want to mimic those stories as well. This is a great way for them to visualize their experience and prepare emotionally for the unknown.
- Just going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer
- The Tooth Book by Dr. Suess
- Show me your smile by Christine Ricci
- Does a Tiger Open Wide by Fred Ehrlich
- Curious George Visits the Dentist by Margret & H.A. Rey’s
Arrange for your child to come in early
Letting your child explore the area before being sat down in a chair can help ease them into the experience and avoid a major breakdown. Arranging a pre-appointment visit can help a child avoid ever feeling uncomfortable at the dentist and it gives the dentist a chance to learn how to comfort your child if the time ever comes that he/she has too.
- Exploration gives a sense of control and autonomy for your child
- Meeting the doctor can help avoid any issues
- Quick meet and greet is good for the child and the parent
- Encourage your kids to ask questions if they are at the age
- Let your child play with the doctor and in the area so no forcing gestures have to occur
Positive Reinforcement is Important
Getting your child comfortable with the dentist doesn’t have to mean they’re afraid, sometimes just going to a place you’re not familiar with can be daunting. Keep it simple, don’t offer up more information than is necessary but give little reinforcements that downplay the dentist. If your child feels like going to the dentist is punishment for eating candy then they will dislike going, simply make the dentist a necessity of living in a first-world country. The dentist is important but for a child, just make it necessary for everyday life.
- Tell them the benefits of the dentists
- Remind them that you have never let anything bad happen to them before
- Sometimes a reward immediately after the dentist can help make positive associations
- Give support however your child needs it
- Make the drive or walk over to the dentist a fun and lighthearted one
Go to the specialist
The best way to handle a child going to the dentist is by taking them to a specialist. A pediatric dentist is specifically trained to treat children and have a great understanding of preventing any phobias from forming. These dentists can help children establish positive affirmations and comfortable patterns while going to the dentist.
- American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry tells parents that a child needs to visit a specialist no later than their first birthday
- Getting your child accustomed to dental appointments early helps avoid any forming anxiety
- Getting them to use to good dental habits helps them avoid serious dental issues in the future