Fear of the dentist is common among children, and it’s only natural. It can be pretty intrusive to have a stranger probing around your mouth, and the sounds of drills and suction machines are loud and unnerving. If you want to reduce your child’s fear of the dentist, here are five easy things you can do.
Choose the Right Dentist
Your first step in reducing your child’s fear of dentists is to find the right dentist. Do some research and look for family dental specialists. Dentists accustomed to working with children will be better at putting your child’s mind at ease, and this is particularly important if your child is nervous.
A good Asheville dentist will help your child feel comfortable and relaxed, and this will reduce their anxiety about the next visit.
Avoid a Surprise Trip
If you have a child who is very frightened of the dentist, it can be tempting to avoid telling your child about an upcoming appointment and to just take them in as a surprise. This will prevent a long and nervous buildup to the appointment, but will probably make your child much more scared about the appointment when they arrive. They’ll feel ambushed, and it’s not a great way to maintain a good relationship between your child and their dentist.
Instead, give them a little advanced warning so that they can ask you any questions they might have. Don’t give them too much time, as they could be anxious for months. Just tell them a day or two before, and emphasize that it’s okay to be nervous. Tell them you’ll be with them the whole time and that nothing bad will happen.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Use positive reinforcement to forge a positive attitude to the dentist. You could play dentist games or make believe dentist at home, allowing your child to be in control of the scenario and taking turns to be the dentist and the patient. Having fun that relates to the dentist will create positive associations with the dentist, reducing anxiety in the long run.
You could also reward your child after a dental visit. Even something small like a “well done” sticker is a great way to show your child some extra love after the appointment. Alternatively, you could schedule something more fun for immediately after the appointment so that the dentist visit becomes just a small part of the day.
Practice Good Dental Hygiene
If your child is anxious about visits to the dentist, it’s a good idea to minimize the trips. You should go for regular check-ups and visits, but reduce the risk of more invasive and potentially painful procedures by practicing good dental hygiene.
Your child should brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. As they get older, flossing is essential to maintain cleanliness between the teeth, and a fluoride mouthwash after meals is a good idea, too.
Preventing unnecessary dental work is an easy way to make dentist appointments less frightening.
Be Open and Honest
Encouraging your children to be honest about their fears is a good way to make the fears seem less personal and all-encompassing. It’s okay to have worries and anxieties about things, so give your child the space to worry if that’s what they need to do.
With each visit to the dentist, your child will hopefully feel less afraid and more confident.