Taking children to the dentist could be a real nightmare. No matter if it is the atmosphere, sterile surroundings, unfamiliar objects and sounds or simply the fear of any kind of operation; children tend to develop an unreasonable anxiety and fear of regular dental checkups.
Both parents and children need to observe dentist appointments as obligatory procedures that will keep their teeth strong and healthy, as well as promote adequate oral hygiene habits. In fact, there is nothing scarier than yellow, rotten teeth full of cavities. That’s something none of us would like to experience, right? Here are a couple of tips for you to help your child overcome the fear of the dentist.
It is always recommended that kids start visiting a dentist from the earliest childhood. Numerous world’s best orthodontists even state that kids should visit them at the age of one, when their first tooth appears. Teaching their little ones that visiting a dentist is a normal part of their lives, parents will make sure that one day, as grown-ups, their children won’t be afraid of having dental checkups, either in case if emergency or periodic preventive visit.
Try Not to go into Too Much Detail
Talking to your child before the first visit to the dentist is an inevitable part of this procedure. What you need to know is that your child will ask you thousands of questions and you are supposed to answer them all. On the other hand, try to keep all your answers as simple as possible.
Focus on the positive side of the visit, using phrases such as “healthy teeth” or “strong gums” instead of including too many negative details. You should also avoid stating that everything is going to be all right because, if children go through some king of painful or scary dental procedure, they might lose their faith in both the parents and the dentist.
One of the best, yet simplest ways to encourage your children to overcome the fear of the dental checkups is to read them picture books about the dentists. Such books contain detailed illustrations and explanations that will help your child understand what it is supposed to expect there. That’s how you will be able to observe your little one’s opinion about dentists and see whether it changes or not.
Luckily to us, there are numerous amazing books such as “Dora the Explorer Show Me Your Smile: A Visit to the Dentist,” “Spongebob Squarepants’ Behold No Cavities,” or “Elmo Visits the Dentist.” However, when choosing a book, you need to make sure that it doesn’t contain numerous details about the sole procedure, which would scare your child for sure!
Role playing has always been the best method for teaching children. It is the practical and simple way for your children to memorize everything needed. In this case, you could play a pretend visit with your child, where you would be a dentist.
Similarly to reading books, while playing a pretend visit, you need to pay attention to both your vocabulary and gestures. For example, what you should do is the “check-up” by using a simple toothbrush and a mirror. On the other hand, you should avoid the drilling noises or using objects that resemble dental instruments.
Don’t Bribe your Child
No matter how beneficial it might seem to you right now, bribing children has always been considered a negative method by all psychologists. In this case, there is a multitude of reasons why you should never bribe your little one before the checkup.
First, in such situations, children start wondering what it is actually so scary or painful about the dentist appointment that could make them cry. At the same time, they will get used to getting new things every time they visit the dentist.
Therefore, what you should do is talking to your child and praising him or her every time for bravery and excellent behavior. Of course, you should treat your kid with a candy or a new toy every once in a while.
Don’t Take your Child to your Dentist Appointments
In a recent conversation with a renowned orthodontist from Sydney, it was brought to our mind that one of the most common mistakes parents make is taking their children to their dentist appointments. Sitting in a white, sterile room, observing their anxious, or even scared parents and listening to the drilling sounds and words like “pain,” “surgery” or “root canals,” children might experience a lifelong fear of dentists or even stop visiting them entirely.
Take your Kid to a Pediatric Dentist
Instead of taking your kid to the regular dentist, you should maybe consider a pediatric dentist for several reasons. First, pediatric dentists always try to adapt their offices to the kids, painting the walls in bright colors, adding a lot of toys, pleasing pictures, movies and TV shows in order to distract the children from everything unpleasant. Second, pediatric dentists do their best in choosing kid-friendly words and mimics that wouldn’t sound so scary or confusing to them.
All in all, helping your child overcome the fear of the dentist is not that difficult once you learn to do it properly. Even if something goes wrong, you should always remember that it is the unnecessary anxiety and fear that prevents thousands of people all around the world to look for a proper preventive dental care. With these trusted tips, you will definitely manage to explain your child that the visit to the dentist is just another, completely normal part of their everyday lives. Good luck!
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