Visits to the dentist can be terribly stressful, especially if the patient is a child. The cold chair tilted back, the glaring light beaming straight into your open mouth. Not to mention the metal tools being poked around your teeth.
It’s easy to see why kids fear dental exams. However, the reality is that most of their worries are overblown. A trip to the dentist can actually be a pleasant experience. Show your child that there’s nothing to be afraid of and their next dental visit should be a breeze.
Your child might have to go to the dentist dozens of times while they’re young. Make your life easier by abolishing their fears as soon as you can.
1. Choose a Pediatric Dentist
A lot of your child’s anxiety can be alleviated by the right practitioner. Pediatric dentists know how to handle a frightened kid, it’s what they train for! Your regular dentist might be less experienced.
Kids respond to bright, happy environment. An office that focuses on pediatrics will be fitted out to appeal to little ones.
According to Springs Pediatric Dental Care in Colorado Springs, Colorado: “A family dentist provide general dentistry for all ages, while pediatric dentistry is focused on children’s teeth and dental needs… Because we only treat kids, we are skilled at caring for them with warmth and compassion. This helps to put them at ease so they don’t fear coming to the dentist.”
2. Start Early
Take your child to see the dentist when her first tooth appears or by her first birthday. She’ll be more comfortable with later visits if she’s already used to the experience. This is also the best way to ensure that her teeth and gums are healthy.
3. Use Positive Words
Your kids adore you; the gobble up every word that you say. If you start complaining about how awful your last root canal was, they’ll soak it up. Don’t let allow your little munchkin to see that you dislike going to the dentist.
Avoid phrases like “it will only hurt a little” or “it won’t be so bad.” Encourage your kids to think that a dental exam is a positive experience!
4. Meet Your Dentist
If your child is particularly panicked, you can ease her fear by taking her to meet the dental staff the day before her appointment. Instead of having her mouth worked on by a team of strangers, she’ll be treated by people who she feels somewhat comfortable with.
Meeting the dentist in advance can also be extremely beneficial for you, as you can make sure she’s the right practitioner. You want to choose someone with a gentle, pleasant demeanor.
5. Try a Mock Visit
Kids adore playing games. A pretend visit to the dentist can help remove the mystery surrounding the upcoming visit. You can practice with dolls or stuffed animals. You can even use a toothbrush and your child’s own mouth.
Just make sure that the experience is fun, not scary.
6. Don’t be Afraid of a Little Fuss
Despite your best efforts, there’s a good chance that your little one will start fussing in the dentist’s chair. It’s okay. This is to be expected. Remember to stay calm. There’s not much that you can do except to ride out it out and try to make her more comfortable.
You can try to distract her by giving her your phone and some headphones or you can sit close to the dentist chair and tell her stories.
7. Never Give Up
Helping a child get over their fears can be a long journey. It’s frustrating when your kid refuses to cooperate by try to understand that she doesn’t care about her dental health yet. All she’s thinking about is the possible pain and discomfort.
However, the situation isn’t hopeless. With enough time and patience, you can conquer your child’s terror.
Schedule the Appointment
At some point, you just have to bite the bullet. Don’t risk your child’s health in an attempt to appease them. They’ll probably never WANT to go to the dentist but you might be able to make the experience less stressful.
Children aren’t the only ones who are squeamish about getting their teeth cleaned. Sometimes the fear persists into adulthood. Your baby isn’t abnormal if she can’t settle down in the dentist chair.
If the anxiety is too severe to be dealt with by normal methods, you can try sedation dentistry. Your child will be given a safe, controlled dose of laughing gas. The drug will calm their mind and allow them to experience the appointment without fear.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you don’t skip your appointment! Dental problems can be awful to deal with if you wait too long.