One of the more common phobias is definitely a fear of going to the dentist, and it’s not just young kids who get a bit cagey at the idea of getting in that exam chair. However, the dentist is obviously a much more confusing and difficult to understand process to a young mind. By using these simple tricks, and being sure to choose the right pediatric dentist, you can prevent your child from dreading the dentist and make sure they grow up with the right attitude towards good dental hygiene!
Start them young: Find a dentist that you plan on taking your child to for the foreseeable future, and make sure to introduce them to their dentist early on. This introduction ideally takes place before any actual appointment takes place. This humanizes the dentist, and allows them/you to explain to the child the concepts of oral health and why it is crucial.
Choose your words carefully: Make sure to maintain a positive tone with your word choice. Make sure to make your child understand that their friend (the dentist) is going to clean their teeth with a ‘special toothbrush’. Avoid negative words like ‘pain’ or ‘hurt’, and focus on the positive.
Practice at home: Before their first cleaning/checkup, stage a “pretend” dentist visit with your child. Explain to them what the dentist will do and why, and make sure to make it fun! This will help them develop a positive attitude towards the experience, and give them a better understanding of why they have to go to the dentist.
Avoid bribery: Although it may be tempting to coax your child through the stress of the dentist with the promise of reward, it’s best to avoid this technique. By offering a bribe you immediately enforce the idea that the dentist visit is an unpleasant experience that needs to be compensated for. Instead constantly commend your child on his/her bravery, maturity, and good attitude throughout the visit.
Emphasize the importance: Make sure to convey the importance of regular dental check-ups to your child. Be sure to highlight how visits will keep their teeth strong and healthy, and prevent problems down the road.