Is it a struggle to get your kids to go to the dentist? You’re not alone, as studies show that 1 in 10 kids have a dental phobia. Fortunately, there are many ways out there to get your children comfortable with attending their dental appointments. This article will share ten ways to help your kids feel comfortable going to the dentist.
Why Do Kids Have A Dental Phobia?
Did you like going to the dentist as a child? Many adults often have the same phobia that children have. However, most children with a dental phobia may have one due to a previously bad experience. If your child doesn’t trust your dentist, they’re not likely to enjoy feeling vulnerable while they poke around inside your mouth.
Alternatively, your child might be nervous about visiting a dentist for the first time, or have an unaddressed phobia that has built up over time. No matter the source of the dental phobia, it’s important to address their concerns and get them comfortable with going to the dentist.
How Can I Resolve My Child’s Dental Phobia?
There are a few ways you can explore to reduce your child’s fear of the dentist. These steps will help your child understand why we go to the dentist and that a dentist fulfills an essential role in maintaining your health.
- Find A New Dentist
If your child has had a negative experience with your previous dentist, you might need to find a new dentist. Look at their services online and ensure they specialize in pediatric dentistry and have positive reviews from parents on their Google My Business page or Yelp reviews. Before your child’s appointment, call your dental surgery and see what they can do to make them feel more comfortable during the appointment.
- Be Positive About The Dentist
As adults often fear the dentist, it’s natural that they might pass on any negative comments to their kids without thinking. Try to change how you talk about the dentist and emphasize their importance in maintaining the health of your teeth. Book an appointment yourself, and share with your children how keeping your teeth healthy is an important part of living a healthy life.
- Get Them To Play As A Dentist
Kids often play out an event from real life, from driving a car to hosting a dinner party. Why not get them to play as a dentist and encourage them to play out a visit to the dentist’s surgery? You can play alongside them and use it to teach them a bit about what to expect when they attend an appointment. You can help teach them what to expect from the dentist so that they feel more confident when they visit.
- Be In The Room With Your Child
Most dentists will allow their child to stay in the room with them. Ensure you can do so when your child has a dental appointment, as it can familiarize them with the experience. As your child becomes more familiar with the dentist and how an appointment works, you might be able to have them attend alone.
- Surprise Them With A Treat After The Visit
This doesn’t mean bribes, which don’t work and can often have a negative impact on your child. Instead, this means rewarding them for positive behavior after the event. Praise them with a healthy treat and use verbal reinforcement to stress everything they did well. Or, book a fun event for after the trip, like going to the park or seeing friends.
- Let Them Dress Comfortable
Your child doesn’t need to dress up for the dentist. Let them wear clothes they feel comfortable in for their appointment, and make sure the fabric is breathable and that they can move freely. Your child will feel more stressed if they attend the dentist in uncomfortable or restrictive clothing.
- Let Them Bring A Comfort Toy
At least one in three children have a favorite object. For most kids, this is a cloth, a blanket, a soft doll or a teddy bear. Let them take their favorite item with them, and speak to the dentist beforehand to make sure they can bring it into the appointment with them, or at least the waiting room.
- Introduce Them To The Dentist
Call the surgery ahead of time and see if your child can come in and visit the surgery, and their dentist. If they get a little tour of the waiting room and the appointment room, they’ll know what to expect ahead of time and are likely to feel a little less nervous. You can also meet them at the same time and ask the dentist some questions to get a good feel for how they interact with kids.
- Plan The Appointment At A Good Time
Plan the appointment at a time that doesn’t clash with a fun event, like a sports match or a playdate. Feed them beforehand (and brush their teeth afterwards) so they’re not grumpy and hungry when they have an appointment. Take these steps to set your child up for a successful dental appointment.
- Be Calm
You might not love visiting the dentists either, and might feel a little impatient if your child plays up on the way to the dentist. But try and remain calm and positive in the run up to, the appointment itself, and the time after. Kids are looking at how you react; a calm reaction can help them build positive habits.
A Dentist Appointment Can Be A Positive Experience
Your child’s visit to the dentist doesn’t have to be stressful. Use positive and calm language, and help them to be comfortable with a well-timed visit, comfy clothes, and a favorite item. If they’ve previously had a bad experience with a dentist, try to find a new one that works better with kids. See if you can sit in on the appointment to help them feel calmer. Over time, your child will feel more confident and happier visiting the dentist.