Dental appointments can frighten patients of all ages, but for children fear of the dentist is especially common. Many kids associate medical offices with getting shots, so they might be on edge the moment they step through the door. All too often even a routine cleaning can turn into a tantrum, despite the best efforts of parents and dental staff. But there are some things parents can do to help their child feel more comfortable in the dental chair.
1. Talk it Up
Preparing your child for what’s to come can help them understand that there’s nothing to fear. If they’ve had a cleaning before, remind them that they just had their teeth brushed and checked and that it’s easy if you sit still. Remind them about what they enjoyed from their visit, like the toys in the waiting room, or the prize at the end. Keep it honest while highlighting the positive! Similar strategies for avoiding fear of the dentist can apply when a child comes in for the first time. Check out this guide for prepping littles for their first check-up.
2. Keep Calm
This may be easier said than done, but several studies indicate that parent’s concern worsens dental fear in children. Try to talk positively about the dentist before your appointment, and keep a cool head while your little one is in the chair. Hovering, fidgeting, and even behaving in an overly soothing or consoling way can trigger fear in children as they pick up on the non-verbal cues that you’re not comfortable here.
3. Set the Example
Let your little one know that everyone needs to go to the dentist to keep their teeth healthy. Schedule your own regular cleaning, and (if possible) bring your child with you to your appointment to show them how easy it is.
4. Bring them Regularly
Most anxiety stems from fear of the unknown. Having regular cleanings can help children feel comfortable with the process of dental visits. Besides which, having regular cleanings can help prevent cavities, so kids don’t have to worry about things like fillings and shots.
5. Find a Kid-Friendly Provider
Pediatric Dentists, like the providers at South Valley Pediatric Dentistry, have specialized training in dealing with young patients, so they can often offer an easier experience for their patients. Additionally, Pediatric Dental offices provide kid-friendly activities, like movies, games and toys, to keep children occupied during their visit.
When kids won’t cooperate for their visit, well-meaning parents sometimes react in ways that make the fear of the dentist worse, but this can be avoided by remembering these tips.
1. Don’t Shout
Having an uncooperative child at the dentist can be extremely frustrating and embarrassing, but when parents lose their tempers during the visit, children just have even more fear of the dentist. Now they think they’re in trouble, so they’re crying for two reasons! Lots of situations call for a good loud lecture, but being afraid of the dentist isn’t one of them.
2. Don’t Give Up
When kids throw a giant tantrum at the dentist, sometimes throwing in the towel seems like the best option. But the more you make the effort, the better time they will have. Keep seeing the dentist to give kids a sense of familiarity with the process. Eventually most children will grow out of their fear with continued visits.
We all want what’s best for our kids, and that includes a healthy smile and a trauma-free dental experience. While, some children have a harder time than others, and there’s no magic bullet to make every child feel okay, having a consistent, positive, kid-oriented dental home can help the process go much smoother.
For more strategies on helping your child’s dental health, call 801-489-1301 to speak with our reception staff today.