As a parent, you have to take your child to the dentist to keep his or her teeth healthy. However, to a child, a visit to the dentist can be a scary experience. This can be due to the fear of the unknown or past experiences. Irrespective of the cause, there are a few steps that you can take to help your child overcome dental anxiety.
- Tell positive stories about dentistry
Kids look to adults to understand their world. So, sharing positive dental stories with your kids a few days before visiting a dentist can help them develop a positive attitude towards the dentist. For instance, you can talk about how it feels good to have your teeth cleaned by a dentist or how it ‘tickles’ when a tooth is being cleaned by dentists.
- Play some pretend games
Before your first dentist appointment, you can play a few pretend games with your child. For instance, you can pretend to be the dentist and using a toothbrush, count your kid’s teeth starting with letter A or number 1. Then you can allow your child to role-play by giving him/her another toothbrush to count or clean the teeth of a doll or stuffed animal. The goal is to get the child familiar with the routine so that he or she can be comfortable when you finally visit a dentist.
- Leverage positive reinforcement
Your kid might not understand the benefits of going to a dentist no matter how you try to explain to him. In such situations, you may need to use positive rewards. For instance, you can let your child know that they will get a cool toy once they get their teeth cleaned or how they will get an opportunity to sit on a nice dental chair when they visit a dentist. Alternatively, offer to take your kid to a place that they love or they have seen on TV once the visit is over such as matinee movie, toy store, or a fun event.
- Invest in a few books about visiting the dentist
Reading colorful, fun books will help your child relax. There are also a wide range of storybooks for kids that have been written about the experience of visiting the dentist. You can buy a few for your child prior to his or her first dentist appointment. The books usually describe the basics that go on in the dentist’s chair and include funny characters to help children see that visiting the dentist is never a big deal. If kids get to learn that their favorite characters had the teeth cleaned, they will think that it is a good idea.
- Let the dentist know about your child’s anxiety
Every New York rejuvenation dentist wants kids and all other patients to enjoy their dental visits. The more they know about the needs of their patients, the better they can serve them. Accordingly, most of them are ready to schedule an additional time when attending to kids to give the kids a more relaxed experience.
- Talk positively after the visit
Irrespective of how your child behaves or what they learn from their first visit to the dentist, only focus on positive things. For instance, you can highlight how they behaved well in the waiting room or how they did well while introducing themselves to your friend at the dentist’s office. You can also ask them whether they remembered to thank the dentist or the assistant who gave them the prize that they won. No matter how small the win is, celebrate it with your child. In doing so, your child will learn that they can have successful and rewarding dental visits.
There you have it; 6 strategies that you can use to help your child overcome the fear of dental visits. Follow them and hopefully, your kid will never be afraid in their next dentist appointment. However, if they don’t work for you as expected, you can opt for professional help. Call in a local therapist to help you make your child more ready for a dental visit or to help him/her stay calm in the dentist’s office.