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How to Alleviate Your Child’s Fear of the Dentist

Nobody enjoys visiting the dentist but fearing the dentist is an all too common fear. If you fear the dentist yourself, you know how hard it can be to go to your appointments and how anxious you can feel before each visit. If you do not want your child to go down the same route, alleviating their fear from an early age means they will enjoy the overall experience more and have strong, healthy teeth. If you have children, here are a few ways to help alleviate their fears of the dentist.

Begin from An Early Age

The earlier you begin going to the dentist, the more normal dental visits will seem to your child. It is recommended you see the dentist as soon as your child begins to grow their first teeth and then regularly afterward, as these appointments will get your child used to a stranger looking into their mouth, as well as the surroundings. Visiting a medical or dental clinic for a child can be overwhelming, so choosing a pediatric dentist is vital as the surroundings will be tailored to children. Regular general dentistry appointments are essential for children and adults and contribute to all-around better dental health. 

Remain Positive and Be a Role Model

Children can sense their parent’s anxiety and this, in turn, can cause them to feel anxious. When you have children, this is the time to be brave and face your own fears too. If they overhear you saying you do not like the dentist, they are going to be worried about the experience too. When explaining about the dentist, try to avoid words such as drill or pain, as children can often associate these words with much worse things. Children cannot quantify a little pain from a lot of pain, so hearing words like this will have their imagination running wild. Choosing a dentist that deals with pediatric patients ensures that they know how to speak to children and alleviate their fears further.

Play Dentist at Home

Another great way to make the dentist seem more normal to your child is to play dentists at home. The less your child understands about the dentist, the scarier it can be. Many children play doctors and nurses, but not many play dentists. Make this a part of play so your children better understand the concept of a dentist and how they must stay still during an examination. Let them take turns looking at your teeth and ensure that you look at theirs too, so they may react better when in the real dental chair.

Allow the Dentist to Work

It is a natural reaction for a child to cry or throw a tantrum when a stranger is looking into their mouth. Even if it does not hurt, many children hate the idea of being held and many children fear the unknown. This is why regular dental appointments from an early age allow your child to familiarize themselves with the situation. Dentists are used to this situation and whilst it may be difficult as a parent to stand back, letting the dentist handle the situation may be best for everyone. Building a therapeutic relationship with your dentist also means your child is more likely to listen, so visiting the same dentist at each appointment, if possible, will make this process a whole lot easier.

Don’t Bring Your Child to Your Appointments

Unless you are visiting a family dentist where all appointments are together, avoiding taking your child to the dentist. Often, as adults, we need more work doing than children, and if your child witnesses this, they may become frightened themselves. It is not as common for a child to need a crown and the procedure can be very daunting to an observer. If you are worried about your own dental appointment, your child will also pick up on this and may become anxious too.

Emphasize the Need for Good Oral Hygiene

Your child needs to understand that dental appointments are not just for fun and that they are mandatory to ensure strong and healthy teeth throughout their lifetime. Fortunately, most children do not need much work done to their teeth if any at all. The most common procedures include braces and teeth extractions. Ensuring that your child takes good care of their teeth will prevent the need for any further action being taken by the dentist, which will frighten your child more. This means brushing twice a day and for two minutes. You can purchase toothbrushes for children that play a song, so they know how long two minutes is, or brush your teeth together as a family in the morning and at night.

Reward Your Child

When your child behaves at the dental appointment, be sure to reward them with a day out, a toy or a sticker. The dentist will also reward them and usually has stickers at the ready for all children following their appointment. When rewarding your child, do not offer them a sweet treat, as this defeats the object of teaching your child good oral hygiene and the importance of dentists. Many children behave better when they know there is a reward at the end.
Following these tips can prevent your child from ever fearing the dentist at all. Being a good role model and playing dentists will help your child feel more comfortable when they do visit, and choosing a pediatric or family-friendly dentist will ensure that the environment isn’t too scary for your child. Whilst it may be difficult as a parent to watch your child crying in the dental chair, this is a normal reaction that will only be made worse if you fuss over them. Children do not like being held down and so may react negatively. Taking them from an early age could prevent this and means your child will be familiar with dental practices as well as their dentist.

Have you got any more tips? Let us know!


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