What Can I Do if My Child is Afraid of the Dentist?
It is not always possible to identify why a child has developed a fear of the dentist. It is possible that they have been talking to friends who have had a bad experience. Alternatively, they may simply hate the thought of someone poking round inside their mouth.
It is equally possible that your own attitude towards the dentist is being reflected by them; if you don’t like the dentist, (but still go); your child will not be encouraged to go themselves.
The simple fact is that a fear of the dentist affects 1 in 6 adults and 1 in 10 children.
As good dental health is essential to maintaining their teeth and overall health; it is important to help your child overcome their fear and see a dentist as often as possible.
Here are some tips to help your child overcome their fear:
Find The Right Dentist
If you use a practice that specializes in dentistry for children, then your child can go to an environment that is fun. This will instantly take the edge of their fear; especially if there are toys available to use while you wait.
Children have minds like sponges; they absorb almost everything that goes on round them. Don’t leave them relying on their vivid imaginations.
Instead, tell them about what a visit to the dentist entails and why it is important.
The more they realize it is an important part of staying healthy and even boosting body confidence; the happier they will be to go.
Don’t Surprise Them
Your child may get anxious about an upcoming dental visit and this can make it tempting not to tell them about it until you get to the dentist.
Unfortunately, this is likely to make their fear worse.
Tell them about the dental appointment as soon as you book it and encourage them to have a special toy or even a teddy to take with them; it will be their comfort blanket.
Take Them With You
A great way to start introducing them to the dentist is to take them when you have an appointment. This means they can see everything that is going on and the fact that you are not scared of the dentist.
You may be surprised at how reassuring this can be to a child.
Plan A Short Visit
You can also take your child to visit the dentist without your dentist doing anything. Your child can simply sit in the chair and go through the motions; this will make it a more pleasurable experience and help to remove the fear of a ‘real’ visit.
If it helps you can reward them for facing their fear although a sugary treat may not be the best idea!
Throughout the whole experience you and your dentist must remain calm and keep talking to your child; this will ensure they know everything is okay.
If none of these steps help then it is possible your child will need to see a therapist; although this is not usually necessary.