It’s actually pretty common for children to have anxiety about going to the dentist. After all, they’re in a brightly lit room, and a stranger wearing a mask is poking around in their mouth. And no matter what they do, toothpaste and the fluoride treatments just aren’t very tasty. So many children end up with negative associations regarding the dentist, and those can be tough to get rid of. As a parent it can be frustrating when your child is scared of a necessary trip to the dentist’s office, but there are some strategies you can use to help alleviate some of their fear and make the next appointment a little more pleasant.
Start Them Young
The faster your child gets used to going to the dentist, the faster you’ll see their fear melt away. That will help the dental office, staff, and tools become familiar, and that will help build trust and a certain level of comfort in your child. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry actually recommends that you take your child to the dentist no later than their first birthday.
Even go so far as to “play dentist” with them at home. You can pretend to clean each other’s teeth, and walk them through the different steps that they’ll go through during a dental visit. Again, it’s all about making them feel comfortable and familiar in the dental office.
Communicate Simply, But Effectively
Kids need time to mentally prepare themselves for something like a trip to the dentist, especially if they’ve had trouble with it in the past. Keep them updated on an approaching dental appointment, and definitely don’t spring it on them at the last minute. Communicate using positive words and avoiding anything associated with pain. Use positive reinforcement when they’re done, praising them for good behavior and bravery.
Rewarding them for good behavior works well, but don’t bribe them beforehand. That sets them up to wonder why you need to offer something in the first place. You don’t want them walking in with a negative assumption about what may happen in the chair.
Consider A Pediatric Dentist
A pediatric dentist will have two to three years of training after dental school, so that they specialize in treating children. The dentist and their staff are prepared for your child, and understand the needs and thought processes of children that come into their practice.
source: molarmediamount.com website