It is not easy to observe your child’s fear of the dentist, especially when you know regular cleanings and examinations are an important part of their oral health. However, showing anxiety during or prior to your child’s scheduled visit may make the situation even more difficult. It is natural for a child to have concerns or fears about seeing the dentist. The chair is unusual and the tools can be noisy. Here are some common tips for parents to help ease a child’s fear of the dentist.
- If your child is still young, start early. This gives the child a chance to get used to the sights, sounds, and people during a routine visit (as opposed to an emergency). The child can begin to build a friendly relationship with the people they meet at the office.
- Keep it no-nonsense. Do not try to convince a child that a dental check-up is all fun and games. You never know if an additional procedure may be needed one day, and a child may lose trust in you and the dental professionals. Instead, teach him the importance of keeping clean teeth and having regular check-ups.
- Keep it simple. There is no need to go into detail prior to a child’s first dental visit. If a child has questions, a pediatric dentist will have expertise in answering appropriately.
- Play pretend or read a book. Have a pretend dentist visit at home, role-playing with your child or one of her favorite dolls. Alternatively, find an age-appropriate book about going to the dentist to help her understand more about keeping a healthy mouth.
- Reward after, not before. Bribing a child with reward before a visit can plant the idea that this could be a bad experience, raising anxiety even further.
If your child is showing fear of the dentist, these steps can help ease anxiety and worry. Building a friendly relationship with a dentist at a young age will result in a healthy attitude towards teeth and gum care.