If your child is scared of the dentist, it’s time to change that! There are two types of children in the world- those who love the dentist and the goody bags that follow and those who scream their head off in tears the whole way there. Some children were introduced to the dentist in an ill fashion, resulting in an irrational fear beyond belief, while others jump for joy at the idea of having pearly whites!
This irrational fear of the dentist comes from the lack of preparation for the dentist’s office by parents and what it is from the very start of their teeth cleaning journey. Because this environment is foreign to your child, there may be some unnecessary tension and hesitation when arriving for their appointment and cause them to be afraid of the dentist. It is important to combat this feeling before it manifests deeper.
Is Your Child Scared of The Dentist?
If your child has a fear of the dentist, even slightly, it is crucial to nip it in the bud before it manifests into anything greater. Children are notorious for being frightened when they have to visit the dentist if proper planning and precautions were not taken upon their first visit. Because it’s a new environment, and it is unfamiliar to your child, they may be naturally hesitant, especially when the dentist wants to operate within their mouth.
Easing your child into the process step by step in the least intimidating way is the best way to ensure they will not be scared or develop a fear of the dentist. This will be the determining factor of if your child is scared of the dentist. If your child presents early on with a sense of unease when headed to the dentist, it is best to confront it before it spirals into irrational fear. Learning how to maneuver around these types of fears in a way that is not demeaning can be difficult. That is why we consulted with The Smilist Dental Queens and compiled these tips.
Before The Visit
Before their first visit to the dentist, it is crucial to prepare your child for what to expect in order to prevent them from being scared of the dentist. Remember, they have no idea what they are walking in to and it is normal for nerves to be on the higher side. It is important to explain to them that the tools are used for cleaning those pearly whites and that there is no need to fear them, they won’t hurt you! This will ensure that your child does become scared of the dentist. Letting them know these minor details beforehand will make all the difference in a smooth, successful trip to the dentist.
Take Them Along
It may even be a good idea to take your child along with you when you personally need to visit the dentist, so that way, they can familiarize themselves with the process. That, as well as educating your child on the reasoning why we need to go to the dentist will show them that there is no reason to be scared of the dentist. If they know that this is something they will have to do for the rest of their lives and are educated on it, it will leave less room for unnecessary fear or worry.
Oral hygiene and dental check-ups are crucial in anyone’s life and having your child well-versed on the process from the very start will create a solid foundation for the rest of their visits.
Practice Makes Perfect
You can also role-play with your child in a fun setting so they know what to expect! Take turns with your children being the dentist and patient and examine each other’s teeth so that when this actually happens they know what to expect. It’s never advisable to force your child to submit to a dental examination, as this can affect their relationship with dentists for their entire lives and also increase the chances that they will be scared of the dentist.
Start Them Off Right
Ideally, your child’s first dental visit shouldn’t be to do any actual work on their mouth. Instead, this could be a great opportunity to have your child explore the dental office and familiarize themselves with all the equipment. This allows for the process to be fun and not threatening in the slightest. This in itself will ease their mind and make them comfortable when the time comes for an actual dental procedure. During this time, the dentist can also do a quick examination and look for any issues such as tooth decay and issues with the gums.
On the next visit to your dentist, any issues that may have arisen can be addressed. This communication should be easier because of the relationship built previously with the dentist. Your child’s comfort level will determine the direction of their second visit to the dentist. Some children are brave enough to be left alone with their dentist while their parents attend to other matters, while this frightens others. This all depends on how they perceive the dentist and their office from the first impression that was imprinted on them from their last visit.
Many children never see a dentist until they are over the age of 2 years old, usually, after all of their baby teeth have grown in. This is a huge social stigma and is a lot later than advised by dental professionals. At around six months of age, the primary teeth usually start to develop and begin to grow. It is important to get your child into the dentist around this age to ensure that no further complications present themselves unexpectedly down the line.
Even with all these tips for making your child’s first trip to the dentist a pleasant experience, it is totally normal and even expected for your child to experience a certain degree of anxiety. It’s important to always stay calm and put on a brave face for your child to mirror. Know that dentists are experienced in these situations and will do everything in their power to ease your child’s mind.
If your child is scared of the dentist, it may be necessary, depending on the procedure, to sedate them or make an appointment with a psychologist in order to address the issue and root of their fear. This is the last resort, however. Dental phobia in children is rare, but it still happens from time to time.
The bottom line is that as a parent, you recognize the need to have proper oral health for yourself and your children. You can begin to achieve this through diligence in oral hygiene practices like flossing and brushing regularly, as well as investing in a great mouthwash, but all of this needs to be used in conjunction with regular dental visits. If your child is scared of the dentist, it is important to prepare them for each visit by easing their nerves and practicing these quick tips. By practicing these tips, you can prevent your child from being scared of the dentist so that regular check-ups are sure to be a breeze!
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