If an adult hates going to the dentist, their fear probably started out with a fearful first experience going to the dentist. With all the novel and unfamiliar aspects of a first-time dental appointment, there can be a lot to be nervous about! Whatever makes your child scared of the dentist, however, we know what to do to ease their fears. However, here are some tips from great parents that we have gleaned over the years that can even make your child enjoy their experience.
As a parent, however, you can do a lot to help your child feel comfortable and actually enjoy going to the dentist. These are things we have seen our patients with children do, but maybe you have your own successful techniques. If so, please share in the comments section.
1.) Be relaxed, talk to your child in calm tones and explain everything that is going to happen. Part of what scares children and adults at the dentist is the fear of the unknown. However, if you can explain that you will sit in the waiting area for a few minutes, then someone will call your name and you will get to visit the dentist, he will sit you in his chair that makes you lay back, and he will clean your teeth with his tools and make sure they are healthy, this kind of understanding going into the experience will prepare your child mentally for what is going to happen. Be positive without lying. Tell your child what to expect but avoid the words, “pain,” “shot,” “hurt,” etc. that could contribute to your child’s nervousness. You can tell them the truth, however, that the dentist will help make their teeth white and shiny, will help your mouth be more healthy, or any other positive truths about the dentist that will prepare your child know what to expect.
Suggested Reading: How to Get Your Child Comfortable in the Dentist’s Chair
2.) Make going to the dentist a special occasion. Don’t let your child eat anything within 30 minutes of their
cleaning, but you can make the dentist somehow special for your child by making it fun. Doing something fun with your child after their visit with the dentist that will help them associate the dentist with good memories. Take them to the park afterward or talk to them one-on-one as they tell you about everything that happened at the dentists’ office, or do something else with them that they enjoy (and make sure they know that it is associated with going to the dentist.)
3.) Visit the dentist’s office before your appointment . Along with telling your child what to expect, you can further help your child prepare by taking them to the office before-hand. This helps them visualize what to expect and takes the pressure off their initial exposure to the office. Similar to adults that like to visit their office before starting a new job or get a Google maps image of a destination before heading out, your child will be less overwhelmed with the novelty of their dental cleaning by seeing the office before they arrive for the appointment.
4.) Start your child early . Visiting the dentist is less scary when your child has been there before. How early is too early? Don’t bring your child in until they have teeth that touch each other, but as soon as your child’s teeth are close enough to capture plaque and potentially decay, bring them in for an exam and a dental cleaning.
Suggested Reading : How to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Each of our Platinum Dental Care locations serves patients of all ages, but if your child would feel more comfortable with a Pediatric dentist, we recommend Dr. Chavez, a great dentist in Provo. His pediatric dental practice in Provo, Utah specializes in helping children develop strong oral hygiene habits and diminish their fear of the dentist for life.