The Dentist Doesn’t Need to be Scary for Kids!
Fear of the dentist is pretty common for kids, so how do you help your child relax before his or her next visit?
- Start Early. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists suggests age one or when the child’s first tooth is visible. This helps create a foundation of good oral health, and familiarizes your child with the dentist and what to expect and an early age.
- Keep a Positive Attitude. When preparing your child for a visit, keep it simple and positive. Adding extra information about potential treatments may cause unnecessary additional anxiety, but staying positive about their health and prevention will help your child mimic your outlook and help him or her to relax.
- Use the Right Words. Be cautious of using words your child may associate with pain. Instead, focus on the positive by using phrases like “The dentist is checking your smile”, or “we’re making sure your teeth are strong and healthy”.
- Be Prepared for Some Fussing. It’s normal and age-appropriate that your child may whine or fuss when being examined by a stranger for the first time. Stay calm to help your child mimic your behavior and know the dentist and staff are specifically trained to handle the needs of children.
- Avoid Bribery. Saying phrases like “If you don’t cry you can have a treat!” can increase apprehension. Your child may be wondering what could happen that would make him or her cry. Instead, after the visit, use words of affirmation to let your child know that you noticed their behavior and bravery in a potentially scary situation.
Be sure to emphasis the importance of good oral hygiene, and that brushing, flossing and check-ups with the dentist are necessary to stay healthy, and build the foundation early to protect teeth and gums for the future.