It is essential to take your child to regular dental appointments for their oral health, development, and promotion of great oral hygiene habits. A dental visit, however, may be filled with unfamiliar sounds, smells, and sights that your child may be afraid of. If you want to help your child’s fear of the dentist improve over time, we suggest a few things:
Start Regular Dental Visits Early in Life
As soon as the first tooth starts to appear is a great time to start going to the dentist with your child. Bringing your child to a great dental office early will help them find comfort over time with each visit. They may establish the practice as their “home of dentistry” for years to come, even past their teenage years!
Keep Details Simple
It is important to talk to your child about going to the dentist before they sit in the chair. Make sure to keep a positive attitude before, during, and after the visit. Try to avoid promises such as “you won’t need anything done / it will be a simple visit,” because if your child ends up needing further treatment, they may lose trust in you and the dentist.
Dental terms are not the friendliest – let’s face it. Words like “shot, extraction, drilling” may make your child anxious. A pediatric dentist, Michael J. Hanna, D.M.D., says to refer to a dental exam as searching for sugar bugs so he can clean them off teeth.
Do a Mock Visit
You may want to consider practicing going to the dentist before the appointment. This could be a fun opportunity for both you and your child to feel more comfortable before a dental visit. Communication to your child about what to expect at the dentist and practicing good brushing technique in a fun “pretend” way could make the visit a breeze! If your child likes role-play, they could pretend to be a dentist by cleaning the teeth of their stuffed animals or figurines. The key is to create familiarity with dental visits.
A lot of parents take their children with them to their own dental appointments and this may be a mistake. Your child may sense your own anxiety and see needles and instruments working on you, so it may be too much. A friendly environment is a better choice – perhaps a pediatric office or simply only allowing them to be apart of their own visit.
Prepare for Bad Moments
It could happen – your child may have a hard time at the dentist even with the above tips. Prepare to consul your child is things are overwhelming – they will need you as support. Try to keep a positive attitude and calm manner so emotions can resolve quickly.
A dental visit is not something that should be rewarded every time – it needs to be seen as something regular and normal. Using a bribe to bring your child to the dentist may actually cause fear because it makes the event seem “bigger that normal.” Also, we want to promote less sugar… if the bribe is a treat!
Following the tips above may help make your child’s dental visits a good experience. It is important to help your child be at ease with the dentist as this is something they will experience for the rest of their lives – more and more as they age!
If you want to schedule your child’s appointment with your Scottsdale dentist, please call us. If your child is already experiencing anxiety with the dentist, here is a great article to help their fears titled, “5 Steps to Managing Dental Anxiety:” https://www.turnaroundanxiety.com/child-afraid-dentist-managing-dental-anxiety/.