The first step in helping your child get over their fear of the dentist is understanding that their fear is completely natural in the first place. Doing something you’ve never done before comes with a certain level of apprehension and anxiety. However, you have a bit of control over how anxious your child is about going to the dentist.
These are five ways to help ease your child’s fear of the dentist
- Start Taking Your Child to the Dentist at 12 Months
If your child is still young enough, it’s a good idea to begin taking them to the dentist when they are a year old. At a year old, they are young enough to not be overly apprehensive about being in a dentist’s office, and it can create a smooth transition into the later years.
- Don’t Use Fear-Inducing Words
It’s a good idea that you choose your words wisely when talking with your child about the dentist. For example, make sure that you don’t use words like, “shot,” or “pain,” when going over the typical procedures in the dentist’s office. Likewise, refrain from saying things like, “Don’t be scared,” or “Try to stay calm.” Even if you’re trying to help, using these words can increase your child’s fear even more.
- Don’t Bribe
Whatever you do, stay away from bribing your child to go to the dentist. When you bribe your child to do something, this immediately tells them that there is something to be feared or overcome about the experience. Rather than bribing your child or rewarding them with a material object after the visit, give them verbal praise.
- Positively Describe the Dentist
If your child has never been to the dentist, you should instead use positive language to describe the dentist. Tell your child about how “nice” the dentist is, or how “good” it is to regularly take care of your teeth. Assess going to the dentist with good connotations for your child and their fears will likely be moderately mitigated. Talk to them frankly about what they are doing in their mouths, brushing, scraping, rinsing or putting on a same day crown.
- Take Your Child to the Dentist Beforehand
If the appointment is looming in the near future, consider taking your child to the dentist’s office beforehand so that they can get an idea of what to expect on the big day. Let them sit in the waiting area, and ask the dentist if you can take your child back into one of the patient rooms to observe other kids going through their own visits. When it’s time to leave, ask your child, “See? That wasn’t all that bad, was it?” Many dentists like Dr. Rogge of Artistic Smiles helps to reassure his young patients that going to the dentist is a positive experience.
Guest Post written by Brooke Chaplan. Brooke is a freelance writer and recent graduate of the University of New Mexico. She enjoys hiking, biking, running and blogging about many different subjects including family, home and fitness. Contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan
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