The dentist can be one of those places that children fear. There are loud noises, weird ‘machines’ and things being put into your mouth. . . it can feel a bit overwhelming at times! However, the dentist doesn’t have to be a scary place! Here are some tips to ease your child’s fear of the dentist.
1. Take Them At An Early Age
When it comes to finding ways to ease your child’s fear of the dentist, one of the best things you can do is get them comfortable early on. As far as any healthy habit, when it’s instilled early on, it’s easier. And when a space feels familiar (the environment, smells, noises, etc.) then it will be less overwhelming.
Try to take your children from an early age. (Even as young as toddler age) This way, as they age, and proceses become more invasive or potentially uncomfortable, they won’t be scared.
2. Role-Play Dentist Scenarios
Role-playing dentist and doctor scenarios can be really helpful to do with children when they’re young. It’s a good way to help them familiarize themselves with the environment before they actually step foot in it. If they’re playing with their parents when it comes to dentist and doctor role-play, then the real-life versions might not be so worrisome.
There are some dentists that will be more than happy to role-play or do a pretend dentist appointment to introduce them to the dental chair and tools, too. (PS: If you’re in the Texas area, Clark Dental Group might be a great option to try!)
3. Become A Role Model
When it comes to children, they’re always looking at adults to see what’s right and wrong, what’s normal or abnormal, or what’s acceptable vs. scary. If there’s an adult parent with a fear of the dentist, chances are that fear will be passed down to them.
Therefore, it’s good practice to be a good role model for your children by attending any dental appointments that are needed. Overcoming a dental fear can be something that is worth doing if it’s experienced in adulthood, not just for the benefit of the children.
4. Schedule Appointments At The Right Time
Try and schedule the dentist appointment at the right time, with respect to schedules, holidays, busy times, etc.
There will be some times of the year that are much better placed than others. For example, try not to schedule appointments when your schedules are hectic because this could create unnecessary stress. It may also be a good idea to avoid times when more sugar is being consumed, like Halloween, where their teeth may be more sensitive.
And don’t forget to schedule regular check-ups, too, so that there isn’t a big lapse of time between appointments.
5. Consider Incentives Or Rewards
Rewards are a great way to help kids who may be a little more apprehensive when it comes to dental hygiene. With that in mind, consider an incentive for getting through their appointment with a positive attitude and good behavior.
It’s also a good idea to think about what types of rewards are appropriate. For example, it may be smart to avoid things that will damage their teeth (like candy). Perhaps a trip to their favorite park or activity might be worth doing instead!
Whether your child resists new things/places or just seems unsettled at health appointments, learning how to ease your child’s fear of the dentist is an important and life-long shift. Hopefully these suggestions help as you navigate this art of your child’s development!