Going to the dentist is an unavoidable task. None of us find it particularly pleasant and some of us are even scared of the prospect but it is something that can’t be missed. To keep ourselves healthy, we have to visit the dentist just like any other doctor whether that’s a yearly checkup or an emergency visit through a service such as Emergency Dentist USA.
However, no one seems to get more anxiety at the prospect of going to the dentist than children. On the bright side, a fear of the dentist doesn’t have to be a permanent fear. There are actually quite a few things you can do to help ease your child’s anxiety.
1. Don’t Wait to See the Dentist
You should start off early taking your child to the dentist. Besides the fact that even small children need to keep their oral hygiene up, this will also help your child grow accustomed to dentist visits. In other words, one of the best ways to help a child overcome a fear of the dentist is to try and bypass the fear altogether.
Even if your child is a little older, you might still be able to quell their fears with an introductory visit. Some offices offer this to help children by letting them get to know their dentist and become comfortable with them before any actual procedure takes place.
2. Offer Your Child Rewards for Going to the Dentist
You can also help your child overcome their fear by offering them something in exchange for being brave enough to face the dentist’s chair. In fact, some offices already do this, offering children small toys after a visit.
Even if your local dentist doesn’t offer toys after appointments, you can implement the practice yourself. For instance, you could offer your child a Budsies custom stuffed animal after a visit. These are a neat option because you can get a plush version of your child, your pet, or even one of their drawings.
3. Be Upfront that You’re Going to the Dentist
When you are getting ready for a dentist’s trip, don’t try to trick your child into it or be too casual about the experience. Instead, be upfront with them about it. Tell them what the average trip to the dentist is like and be positive! Don’t tell your child that something is going to hurt or tell them things like “you might need a shot” if you don’t know what’s going to happen. If you show your own fear of the dentist to your children, they are likely to be afraid as well.
However, don’t overstate things or make promises that might not be the case. For instance, promising a child “the dentist is just going to do this” can be harmful if you get to the dentist and find out more is happening, for example maybe your child needs their teeth x-rayed. It’s absolutely crucial to your child’s comfort that they maintain trust in both you and the dentist.
4. Play Pretend with Your Child
Playing pretend is a great way to get your child familiar with the concept of the dentist before you go. Start by pretending they are the patient and you’re the dentist. You can do things like count their teeth out loud or have them rinse their mouth out with water. Then, you can move on to your child playing pretend as the dentist, counting your teeth or brushing a doll’s teeth like a dentist might.
Once again, avoid anything negative. Don’t pretend to give your child a shot, make drilling noises, or otherwise scare them. The last thing you want to do is cause fear instead of quelling it.
5. Take Your Child with You to the Dentist
You might also want to consider taking your child with you to the dentist the next time you go. This will allow them to see what going to the dentist is like without being directly involved. It might also help to meet your dentist and see them as a friendly, helpful figure.
Be careful of what appointments you choose to take them too, though. If a child sees their own parent in pain or scared, this will scare them. Stick to taking them to a routine visit or cleaning that you wouldn’t be worried about even if they weren’t there. Don’t take them with you for any dental surgery or anything where you might need a shot, for instance, because this could frighten them.
This is usually best if your child has already been to the dentist, though. Seeing a dentist office for the first time in the sterile form of an adult office can be scary for a child. You should never take this approach if you feel any anxiety about your visit, though.
6. Stay with Your Child During the Dentist Visit
When you are taking your child to the dentist and they’re nervous, stay with them. Don’t wait for them in the waiting room or have someone else take them. It’s important to be there for them. For many children, the presence of a parent is comforting. They know with you around that they’re safe and, in turn, they’ll feel safer when you take them places.
Finally, it’s important to note that if your child fears the dentist, they may cause a fuss the night before or the morning of the appointment. It’s important that you handle this with a calm demeanor. Getting upset or angry will only escalate your child’s emotions and make them more fearful.