EVEN THOUGH WE ALL know how important it is to go to the dentist, dental anxiety can make many people avoid crucial dental checkups. For some, dental anxiety starts in childhood and lasts a lifetime. How can we help our children start out with a positive mindset towards the dentist so that they will always seek the professional care and attention their teeth need as adults?
Be Honest But Avoid Negativity
The most important thing you can do for your child is to not make a trip to the dentist into an ordeal. Simply approach it as a perfectly normal part of staying healthy. Tell your child about an upcoming dental visit ahead of time so that it is not a surprise, and answer their questions about what dental appointments are like. Try to avoid scary words like “pain” and “shots,” and leave the detailed explanations of dental procedures to us.
One crucial thing to do even when there is not an appointment coming up is to never use the dentist as a threat. Saying things like, “If you do not brush your teeth, you will end up at the dentist!” will only make a child think dentist visits are punishments — something to be feared and avoided. You can still encourage good oral hygiene habits without portraying the dentist as the bad guy.
Address Existing Sources Of Fear
If your child is already afraid of the dentist, you might have more of an uphill battle to fight, but it is still a battle you can win! Communication is key! Talk to your child about why they are afraid of the dentist and help them understand that it is not so scary. Lead by example and show them that you go to the dentist too. Patience is also crucial. Even for adults, the idea of having a stranger poking and prodding inside our mouths while we are lying in a vulnerable position can be unsettling, so imagine how that must be for a child who is not used to it. Make sure your child understands that dental cleanings will make their teeth feel great and that the dentist is on their team, helping them fight bad germs and tooth decay.
We Are Happy To Help
Sometimes, dental anxiety is too strong for these strategies to completely cure. That is where we can help! Our team knows how to work with children to make them feel more comfortable, so do not feel as if you have to make them love us without our help!
We are looking forward to helping your child’s smile stay healthy and bright!
Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.