Is your child scared of going to the dentist?
Do you have a child scared of going to the dentist, or maybe you’re feeling pretty anxious yourself. Guess what? You’re not alone. About 20% of kids have dental anxiety and fear and for some children it can be quite extreme.
It can create a stressful situation for parents when your kid is scared of going to the dentist, and you may wonder “is it worth all the anxiety?” Don’t give up, with patience and perseverance you can help you and your child have a pleasant dental appointment.
Here is a list of some tips to help you, if your child is scared to go to the dentist:
Tour the dental office before your child’s appointment
You can plan to visit the dental office before your child’s dentist appointment, without the added pressure of an actual visit. It’s normal for a child to be scared of new environments. You can avoid that by letting your kid visit the dental office and meet the team.
Call us or contact us here to see when a good time would be to stop by the office and have one our awesome team members give you and your child a tour.
Use Positive language
It’s important to choose the right words when describing your child’s first dental appointment. You want to be open and honest, but it’s best to avoid the words like pain, hurt and shot. For example, saying “It won’t hurt at all,” focuses on the word “hurt.” It’s better to use neutral words that will help your child feel comfortable and secure, not frightened and anxious.
Help your child understand that the dentist and team are here to help them be healthier and stronger. Using positive words goes a lot further in encouraging a child to brush and take care of their teeth.
Schedule your child's first dental visit when they are young
AAPD guidelines are to visit a dentist by your child’s 1st birthday. Starting dental care when your child is young, not only helps ensure that their teeth and mouth are strong and healthy, but it also helps to familiarize your young child with the dental visit process. Find out more about a child’s first dental visit here.
Take pictures of their first dental visit to show them when they get older and get apprehensive or perhaps if they need dental treatment, to help them regain their confidence.
Practice visiting the dentist at home
Getting your child to familiarize with the dental process, goes a long way to providing significant comfort when they go to their dentist appointment.
You can sit your child down in a chair and pretend you’re the dentist. Explain and show how their teeth will be inspected by using a mirror, and use either your hands or a plastic spoon to represent the dental tools. Then switch it up, you can have them practice at being the dentist and checking your teeth.
Avoid making scary noises, like drills. Show pictures of the dental office, check out our Facebook and Instagram page to see what our patients post while in our office. Just remember with everything that you do, have fun!
Choose a pediatric dentist
It’s important to choose a dentist that is kid-friendly and where you and your child feel comfortable. Pediatric dentists are specifically trained and are tailored to the needs of children.
Not all dentists have the resources and training that a Board Certified pediatric dentist has. A pediatric dentist has special tricks and solutions to help an anxious child get over their jitters. They also train their staff to be extra attentive and to learn how to make a child be able to get through their dental visit with flying colors.
Not to mention if the dental office has a fun theme and toys, it will help your child to feel at home and comfortable. Check out photos of our lego-themed office here.
Bring them along to your appointment (or your other children’s dentist appointments)
You are your child’s hero, if you bring them to your dental appointments, they can see how you do! Or if they have older siblings they can tag along to their appointments, that gives them a chance to visit the office and have an idea of what to expect from the dentist.
Although, if you as a parent have anxiety at the dentist, if might be not be a good idea for them to come to your appointment. Your child can pick up on your energy and fears and may add to their negative feelings about their upcoming dental visit. If that’s the case, then it’s likely best to leave them at home.
Turn it into a fun outing!
Make going to the dentist fun, encourage your child to bring their favorite toy to show the dentist. Take pictures and/or videos to memorialize their dental visit.
Children take after your mood, if you’re positive and happy it goes a long way to help them get over their fear of the dentist. Allow plenty of time to get to your appointment so that you don’t feel stressed. The first dental visit will always be the hardest, so just remember have patience and trust your pediatric dentist and team to help you make the visit successful.
Even though a lot of children are afraid of going to the dentist, it doesn’t have to be a permanent phobia. With support and patience, your child’s dentist appointment can be fun.