Helping Your Child Overcome Their Fear Of The Dentist
Dental care is so important for children but it can be tough to get them to the dentist. It’s common for kids to be afraid of the dentist and a lot of adults still have that fear because it was never dealt with when they were younger. If you want your child to maintain their dental health, you need to tackle their fear of the dentist early on. Otherwise, you will have a constant battle on your hands every time they need a checkup and they will be less likely to look after their teeth when they are older. The good news is, there are some simple steps you can take to help your child get over their fear of the dentist.
Get The First Visit Out Of The Way Early
The earlier you expose your child to a new experience, the less likely they are to be afraid of it. So, don’t wait around too long before you take them for their first checkup. You should find a family dentist as soon as possible and get them booked in. Most dentists recommend that you take your child for a checkup as soon as they get their baby teeth. At such a young age, they have not had time to develop a fear of the dentist yet, so they will soon become comfortable with it. If you are lucky, they might even start to look forward to their trips to the dentist and you can make sure that their teeth and gums are healthy.
When you are choosing a dentist, always go with one that deals with families and has a lot of experience with children. They will have plenty of great tricks to help calm children down and the whole dentist’s office will be designed to create a welcoming environment.
Lead By Example
Kids learn from their parents and imitate them. So, if they see you taking good care of your teeth and taking visits to the dentist at the same time as them, they will understand the importance of dental health. Seeing you visit the dentist without any fuss will make them feel much more comfortable with it too, so if you have a fear of it yourself, you need to make sure that you take steps to tackle it as soon as you can.
Use Positive Language
Whenever your child asks about the dentist, be careful how you answer. It’s important that you always use simple, positive language when talking about it. If you start mentioning negative things like pain, for example, they will focus on those elements of the dentist and develop a fear. Avoid technical language and focus on the positives, like healthier teeth and gums. Be aware of how you talk about the dentist with other people in front of your child too. If they hear their parents complaining about having to go to the dentist, they will immediately think of it in a negative light.
Don’t Surprise Them
Parents often make the mistake of thinking that if they just surprise their child with a trip to the dentist, they have less time to think about it so they won’t be scared. However, this always backfires because routine is incredibly important for children. When they know what is going on and they are expecting a visit to the dentist, they will feel a lot more comfortable with it. When you are scheduling trips to the dentist, always give them plenty of advance warning and put it up on a calendar in the kitchen so they know exactly when they are going. It’s also a good idea to schedule appointments at regular times, so it becomes part of their normal routine. As a general rule, you should be visiting the dentist once every six months with your child as they start growing more teeth. When they get older, you can cut back to once a year.
If you have tried all of these methods and your child still screams and cries every time they need to have a procedure done, it’s worth speaking to your dentist and asking about mild sedatives. In some cases, these can be used for children that have a severe fear of the dentist. However, it’s unlikely that you will need to take that option if you start introducing the idea of the dentist early and take steps to give them a positive impression of it. The most important thing is that you set the right example as a parent and keep up with your own dental hygiene.