What to Do if Your Child Is Afraid of the Dentist

Posted by Southeast Family Dental Mar 23,2022

Did you know that around 36% of the entire population has a fear of the dentist? With this kind of anxiety, it’s easy to ignore going to the dentist even when it’s necessary. A person develops all kinds of dental problems because they avoid going to the dentist at all costs.

If your child is afraid of the dentist, it’s important to help them move past this fear as soon as possible. That’s why we’ve put together this guide that’ll give you all the tools you need to help your child with their fear.

Check it out down below!

  • Use Positive Words

Sometimes we create dental anxiety in our children without even realizing it. It all comes down to the types of words we use when we’re explaining the dentist to a child.

You’ll want to avoid words that make your child’s imagination run wild. For example, mentioning the word ‘pain’ gives the wrong impression and incites fear.

Instead, focus on the positive side of a dentist visit and use words to match. It makes a big difference in the way your child views the dentist as a whole.

  • Explain the Procedure

With positivity in mind, it’s a good idea to explain what your child can expect to happen during the visit. The unknown makes fear even stronger. That’s why you should tell your child what’s going to happen regardless if they’re going for a dental checkup or a more in-depth procedure.

Remember to avoid using frightening words, however. It’s better to give your child more of an idea of what to expect rather than any specific details that sound scary.

  • Play Pretend

Creating a game where your child gets to explore the dental world is a great way to help offset any fears. Take turns playing both the dentist and the patient so that your child gets the whole experience.

This is a helpful exercise that turns a frightening situation into a neat game. It puts a fun spin on the idea of a dentist visit which carries over to future visits with a real dentist.

Plus, your child might even be excited to meet a real dentist after playing as one!

  • Set a Good Example

How long has it been since you’ve gone to the dentist? If you want to help your child learn to overcome their fear, you’ll need to set a good example.

Go to the dentist for frequent checkups and make sure to inform your child when you go. They’ll see that it’s a normal occurrence. They’ll see that you’re not scared of the dentist so they don’t need to be afraid either.

Your child always watches what you do, so make sure you show them the kind of behavior you hope they’ll replicate.

  • Read Books About Dentists

Another great way to help your child feel more comfortable around dentists is to read about them in children’s books. There are many types of books about dentists that have this goal in mind.

Read a couple of these during storytime instead of your regular book choices. This helps your child understand the idea of the dentist without any other fears getting in the way.

Taking the time to read these kinds of books starts your child on the journey of understanding the importance of good oral health.

  • Meet the Dental Care Team

Going into a new building full of strangers is never a great way to start a dental checkup. It’s not only overwhelming but it also amplifies any fears before the procedure even begins.

That’s why it’s a great idea to take your child to the dentist’s office before the appointment. Meet as many people on the staff as possible. Call ahead of time and schedule a short meeting with your child’s dentist so that they can get to know one another.

This activity creates a bond between your child and the people who’ll be taking care of their teeth for years to come. Your child knows everything will be okay because they recognize the dentist and view them as a friend instead of a stranger.

  • Bring a Comforting Distraction

If your child has a favorite toy, bring it with them during the visit. You’ll want to make sure that the toy is not too big or loud or else it might get in the way of the dentist. When in doubt, contact the office beforehand and ask if it’s okay.

Having a familiar presence in the room during the dental procedure helps your child feel comfortable. It gives them something else to think about as the dentist works.

If a toy doesn’t do the trick, try bringing a pair of earbuds and some music. A tablet with their favorite cartoon could also be a great way to keep your child calm during the visit.

  • Reward Courage

When your child works hard to be brave, it’s good to reward that behavior. Take them out to the park or a movie after the visit. Let them know that they did good and that you’re proud of them.

It’s important that you don’t inform your child that you plan to reward them after the dentist visit. If they know about it beforehand, it’ll emphasize the wrong part of the situation. They won’t work towards overcoming their fear, they’ll only work towards getting a treat.

By rewarding your child with encouragement and a bit of fun, they’ll associate these good feelings with the dentist. They’ll have a much easier time going to the dentist again in the future!

  • No Longer Will Your Child Be Afraid of the Dentist

Overcoming fear is never a quick and easy endeavor, but by using this guide, you’re building a good foundation. You’re giving your child all of the right tools they need to no longer be afraid of the dentist.

Oral health is so important to your child’s wellbeing, so don’t delay in putting this guide into action. Getting past their fear at a young age is a gift that’ll keep on giving throughout their entire life!

Don’t forget to check out our services to see how we can help you and your child with all your dental care needs!

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