Many children have fear or anxiety about going to the dentist. The good news is that, as adults and parents, we can help them to have an enjoyable experience at the dentist. Children, and even adults, don’t have to fear the dentist.
Here are some tips on how to help prevent fear and anxiety in children when it’s time to visit the dentist.
Talking about it before the day of can help your child process and prepare for the dentist. It will allow them to ask questions or express any anxiety they may have. This will allow you time to answer their questions and help them work through their anxiety.
Playing pretend with your child before their dentist appointment can help them understand what to expect. Grab a toothbrush and show them how the dentist will brush their teeth. Then have your child practice with a toothbrush on their stuffed animal or doll. Having an understanding of what to expect will help alleviate the anxiety they may feel.
Avoid words that can sound scary to a child, like pain, hurt or drill. Instead opt for something like telling your child that the dentist will look for sugar bugs on their teeth so they can clean them off and help keep them healthy and strong! Or tell them that the dentist will count their teeth and check their smile. These help them both understand what to expect without using words that cause fear.
This one may seem like a given, but telling horror stories of root canals and fillings will only create fear in a child. Hearing those horror stories will likely have your child thinking “what if the dentist does that to me today?” as they head into the dentist office. Not sharing these stories will keep a child’s anxiety at bay. Many parents have had previous bad dental experiences, but you won’t want to tell these to your child, who will instantly develop dental fear!
Using a trip to the dentist as a threat may seem like a tempting tactic to dissuade your kids from eating candy or drinking soda. This can be problematic though. If and when the time comes that your child does need a filling, we don’t want it to be something that has been described as being a punishment or scary experience. Remind kids that it’s the dentist’s job to work together with kids to help keep their smiles healthy, and if the child needs a filling, the dentist is here to help make teeth strong and healthy again!
The dentist and their staff are used to working with children. Don’t worry about your child if they get a little fussy or wiggly. Who wouldn’t when a stranger is trying to look into their mouth! Let the staff guide you in how to support your child. They may have you hold your child’s hand or maybe stand off to the side. Just be confident knowing that the team working with your children have seen their fair share of fussy children and will support you and your child while you’re in the office.
This one is most important! Help your child understand the importance of taking care of their oral health. Teach them that going to the dentist isn’t an option but a necessity! Remind them that the dentist helps them to have strong, healthy teeth so that they can eat and smile cute for the camera!
The team at Blossom Pediatric Dentistry wants to help your child have a great experience in the dental office. Please reach out if you have any questions.
We love Blossom Pediatric Dentistry! I have twin 11 year old boys, who have had previous major anxiety about the dentist. Not with Dr. Barber. She has an amazing bedside manner...
- Lauren Sherick, Mother of Patient
We had an amazing experience at our first visit at Blossom Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics. Dr. Barber and her entire staff are friendly, knowledgeable, and excellent with children.
- Mother of Patient
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