Everyone wants their child to have a healthy, beautiful smile. Unfortunately, the one person who can help your child achieve those goals – the dentist – sometimes seems like your child’s worst enemy. For a variety of reasons, children often worry about going to the dentist, which can lead to behavior that makes it difficult for dentists to do their job. To help make your child’s next dentist appointment smoother, here are a few tips to help your kids overcome anxiety about the dentist.
Let Them See You
One of the best ways to relieve anxiety is to see someone else participate in the activity that causes anxiety. Therefore, if your child is anxious about visiting the dentist, then a good option may be to allow them to watch you during your cleaning. Once they see you, a person they trust, having no issues with the dentist, then they’ll be more likely to relax and perhaps even look forward to their next dental visit.
Take a Tour
Another big source of anxiety in children is the fear of the unknown. If this will be your child’s first dental check-up, then it may help to bring them in for a tour of the office. A children’s dentist can show them around, explain the different tools they use, and show your child that dentists are simply friendly people who want to help them.
Perhaps the reason your child is suffering from anxiety is because of the loss of control they’ll experience during their check-up. To help them regain some level of control, role-play may be your best option. You can purchase a dentist dress-up kit and then allow your child to clean the teeth of their dolls and stuffed animals. As they use their imaginations to help their imaginary buddies, they will regain the feeling of control they need to lower their anxiety about their own dental visit.
Don’t Surprise Them
Some people take the approach of waiting to tell their child about a dental check-up until the last possible second. Unfortunately, while this may help prevent anxiety in the days leading up to the office visit, it will greatly increase anxiety once your child is actually at the dentist. Therefore, it’s important to let your child know in advance that it’s time for their cleaning so that they can work through their emotions in a safe place.
Even though your child is experiencing anxiety about going to the dentist, this may not be how it comes out. It may come out in sleepless nights, aggressive behavior, or a host of other forms. If you notice these unusual actions, be sure to be ready to have a conversation with your child so that you can help them discover what’s causing the problem. By working through their anxiety with them, you will give your child a much better chance of success.