Your kids need their teeth cleaned, but going to dentist is an experience that many children dread. If this is your child, you don’t want to fight with them every time you schedule an appointment. Here are a few ways you can help your child overcome their fear of the dentist and enjoy the experience.
Limit the Scary Details
When children are preparing to visit the dentist for the first time, they’ll likely have plenty of questions. It’s important to keep them informed, so they feel empowered and in control. However, you don’t need to share every dirty detail, especially when it comes to things like cavities. Unless you’re sure that your child has a cavity, avoid bringing up the details of that procedure. Even though it isn’t a big deal, the idea of having a hole in their tooth can freak out almost any child. Instead, discuss some of the positive things that will happen, like coming out with perfectly clean teeth or experiencing a tasty fluoride foam treatment.
Give Them a Treat
The dentist can be scary, and your kids deserve a little reward for being brave. Having something to look forward to will create excitement and take the edge off the anxiety surrounding the appointment. While they may have to avoid eating anything for the next little while if they have a flouride treatment, you can plan a fun activity, let them play with friends, or schedule a fun outing for later that day.
Provide an Education
Anxiety over the dentist can create a positive teaching moment. A large part of that anxiety probably comes from not understanding what is going on when they are in the dentist’s chair. Before you go to the dentist, sit down with your child and go through what will happen at the dentist’s office. If this is a routine exam and cleaning, they will probably have x-rays, a dental hygienist will remove plaque and clean their teeth, and they will receive a fluoride treatment. Once your child knows what to expect and that it isn’t going to hurt, you may find that their anxiety is pretty much gone.
Find a Compassionate Dentist
Some dentists specialize in working with children and adults with anxiety over dental work. In some cases, basic sedation methods are used to calm the patient and make the procedures more tolerable. You and your dentist can discuss your child’s anxiety and play it by ear when it comes to deciding whether sedation is necessary. Some children can be soothed by kind words from a compassionate dentist, and others present a level of anxiety that makes sedation a better option.
Whatever you do to help your child, make sure you aren’t skipping dentist appointments just because they are afraid. Dental hygiene is very important and these tips can help your child overcome their fears.