Many children (and even adults) have a severe fear of going to the dentist. This can make both you and your child dread regular appointments. If your child has dental anxiety and puts up a struggle at the dentist, then there are a few tricks to get your kids a little more excited about their next dental appointment—or at least a little less resistant to go.
Go to a pediatric dentist
Whether or not your child has a fear of the dentist, choosing a pediatric dentist to care for your child’s oral health is the best option. These dentists have extra years of experience being trained to specifically treat children. They are trained to provide the best solutions for your child’s dental fear and can help make their experience more enjoyable.
Start taking them to the dentist while they’re young
When it comes to your child’s first dentist visit, the sooner you take them, the better. It’s advised to take your child by their first birthday, or even when their first tooth appears. This helps them grow accustomed to the visits rather than introducing a new and scary experience.
Make a game out of it at home
Just like playing “mom” or “teacher” as make-believe games with your kids, try playing a pretend dentist visit. Show your kids that there’s nothing to be worried about by expressing your excitement for the “appointment.” Take turns role-playing as the dentist and patient using a toothbrush and hand-held mirror. You could even tuck a napkin into your shirt and sit back in a recliner chair if you have one.
Avoid using bribery
Offering an item up as bribery might cause your child to expect something for everything they don’t want to do in the future. It may also confirm their notion that the dentist is someone to be afraid of if you have to provide something to make the visit better. Rather than bribing your child, reward them with praise for good behavior and commend their bravery after the appointment (even if they were far from brave).
Use positive language
Rather than telling your children horror stories of your past dentist visits, speak highly of your own personal experiences. Avoid using and terms that may have a negative connotation such as “shots” and “drills.” Let your child know about the visit days in advance so that they have time to come to terms with it. Use this time to answer any questions and explain that the dentist wants to make their smile healthy and strong.
Consider sedation dentistry
If nothing else seems to ease your child’s fear and dental anxiety, then you may consider sedation dentistry for kids. There are a few different kinds of sedations available for children who have difficulty visiting the dentist. Dentists and their assistants are trained and certified to administer these mild drugs, and the sedation will wear off after a couple of hours.
If your child suffers from dental anxiety or fear, then try out these methods for assistance. Talk to your pediatric dentist about any further suggestions or options to make your child’s experience more enjoyable.