Dental Tip: Helping Children Overcome Fear Of Dentist
One of the scenarios most dentists have likely experienced is a young patient that is afraid of going to the dentist and is afraid once they get there as well. Getting the child to the dentist is traumatic enough but the fear doesnt end at the dentists office.
Heres some steps dentists can use and also advise patients with children to use. Hopefully, these tips will help make the children feel more comfortable and relaxed with those first dentist experiences.
Explain The Importance Of Oral Health
Parents are advised to have regular conversations with their children about why it is important to take care of their teeth by brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist. They should talk to their children about the importance of taking care of their teeth and how the dentist will help them take care of their teeth to keep them strong so they can eat and help keep away cavities.
The First Visit
It is recommended that a child begin going to the dentist when the first tooth is visible - typically around age one. The first meet and greet visit typically is very short and consists of the child meeting the dentist and staff to become familiar with them and possibly sit in the chair and see the waiting room. Keep the first visit simple and be sure not to include too many details. Never bribe a child to go to the dentist but do praise the child for good behavior after the visit.
Make The Visit Fun
Are you a dentist that is great with kids? If so, there are lots of children and adults that will like to visit you and recommend you to their friends with children. Typically, pediatric dentists offer a kid-friendly office with fun wall posters, toys, books, video games, movies and TV shows.
Be Prepared For The Worst
Dentists and their staff as well as parents should be prepared for the child to cry or throw a tantrum and not want to be examined by a stranger. The best thing a parent can do when this happens is stay calm and let the dentist and the staff control the situation.
Communicate With The Dentist
Parents, if you already know that your child will be anxious or afraid, be sure to let the dentist know so they can try to help ease the fear and treat the child with some extra special care.
Watch Your Words
Do not let your children hear any negative thoughts about going to the dentist and dont say anything about the event that will make them more stressed or afraid. Avoid scary words that may frighten the child such as pain or hurt and freezing if you think it will make them more anxious or afraid. Instead use phrases like clean healthy and strong.
It is also good to explain what you are doing in terms the child understands. The parents can let the child know what to expect and then the dentist can also tell them what they are doing so they know what to expect next and wont be as anxious or afraid. One trick pediatric dentists use is to tell the child they are just going to check their smile and count their teeth.
Parents can also show their children a picture book with fun and easy-to-understand pictures of what the dentist is like and what they will get to do and see at the dentists office. Have a pretend dentist visit with the child. Pretend you are the dentist and show the child a toothbrush and talk about counting the teeth and how to brush them. Perhaps role-play with one of the childs dolls or stuffed animals and let the child pretend to be the dentist.
Stay Consistent With Visits
By taking your child to the dentist regularly every six months they will continue to become more familiar with the surroundings and people and become less afraid.
Always keep in mind that it is normal to be afraid of unknown things - such as a visit to the dentist - and that there are many ways you can help ease the childs fears.