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Studies show that as many as 20% of children have anxiety or fear around going to the dentist. Some kids are so afraid of visiting the dentist that their fear is actually a phobia. When children are afraid of the dentist, taking them for a routine checkup can be overwhelming and unpleasant for everyone involved. However, with some determination and patience, you can change the way your child feels about dental visits. Here are some additional tips that can make your little one’s visit to the dentist less stressful.
Practice at Home
If your child is familiar with what will happen at the dentist, this can take away some of the fear. Have a mock dental appointment at home and show your child how their teeth will be checked and cleaned. Sit them in a chair and recline them to make sure they’re prepared for the equipment in the dentist’s office. Don’t imitate the noises of the drill or other equipment in the dental office since this could scare your child and discourage them from cooperating when you visit the dentist.
Use Positive Language
Your little one is already scared, so don’t use negative language to make them even more concerned about visiting the dentist. It’s important to be honest when answering your child’s questions, but don’t emphasize that any procedures will be painful. Emphasize to your child that dentists are trained to care for their teeth and provide them with a healthy smile.
Visit Before the Appointment
Before your little one’s dental appointment, visit the office so your child can become familiar with the environment. This can make your child feel less anxious when it’s time for their actual appointment. Let your child meet the dental team so that the hygienist, nurse, and dentist will be familiar faces when your little returns for their appointment. If time permits, ask the dental staff to talk to your child and answer any questions they may have. You can book your child an appointment with one of the friendly and qualified dentists in Westerville Ohio or your particular locale in advance. Finding a dental office that your child is comfortable with can make them feel more at ease about regular dental visits.
Bring Your Child to Your Appointments
You can be a positive example for your kids by letting them come to your dental appointments. Let your child see how “brave” you are when the dentist is examining and cleaning your teeth. You may also want to arrange this with the dental staff ahead of time so everyone will be prepared to answer your child’s questions. Keep in mind that this may not be a good idea if you are anxious about visiting the dentist yourself. You don’t want to make your child even more anxious about their upcoming dental appointment.
Be Understanding and Patient
Your little one’s first dental visit will often be the most challenging one. Try to empathize with your child and realize that if your child starts crying or throwing a tantrum, they are simply expressing their fear and uncertainty. Try to be as patient as you can and reassure your child that there is nothing to be afraid of. Losing your temper can make the situation worse. Your child is still looking to you to be an example, so your positive attitude in these moments is crucial.
Hold your child’s hand or hold them if you can to make them feel safe and more comfortable. You may also have to step back if the dentist needs to perform certain procedures and wants to establish a rapport with the child to make them feel better. Experienced dentists have experience with children who are afraid, and if your little one sees that you trust the dentist, they will be much more likely to do the same.
Many children have a legitimate fear of going to the dentist, but this doesn’t have to be a fear they carry with them throughout life. Offering your support can make dental appointments something your child will look forward to. Using positive reinforcement and leading by example can make a visit to the dentist’s office a pleasant experience for your child.