We all know how important it is for kids to visit a dentist regularly to keep their teeth cavity-free and healthy, but what if your little one is terrified of sitting in the dentist’s chair?
Fear of the dentist affects six out of ten adults in the U.S. and children, too, can be apprehensive about going.
Fortunately, there are several things a parent can do to help ease their child into regular dental visits and even look forward to them. Here are five tips for parents on how to get over a fear of the dentist.
1. Read Them Stories and Show Them Kid-Friendly Videos
You can introduce your child to what a dentist is all about by reading them a kids’ book about a dental visit and watching children’s videos about visiting the dentist.
This is a fun way to help them know what to expect and it helps them feel less intimidated if they witness kids their age seeing a dentist.
2. Find a Reputable Pediatric Dentist
A pediatric dentist specializes in young patients and often has an office designed to make visits stress-free and fun. They may incorporate TV screens, music, and more to soothe children during exams and treatments.
Their staff is likely to be more used to interacting with frightened children and more patient with them versus dentists who also treat adults.
3. Set a Good Example
Children tend to mimic their parents, so you can set a good example for them by never saying anything that makes your own dental visits sound scary or uncomfortable. Explain how your dentist is an important doctor who helps your smile always looks its best. You may want to take them with you to your own dental exam so they can be prepared for what to expect.
Your child is also likely to emulate your oral care habits. Brushing and flossing your teeth and eating healthy foods will encourage them to follow your lead.
4. Give Them a Mock Exam
If your child will let you, you can pretend to examine their teeth (without using an explorer or any other scary looking dental tool) when you brush and floss them. This will get them used to having someone look inside their mouth.
5. Provide Positive Reinforcement
Tell your child how proud you are of them for letting the dentist examine their teeth and for being a good patient. Using positive reinforcement will go a long way in helping them become willing patients who will then continue to see a dentist as adults.
Now You Know How to Get Over a Fear of the Dentist
Follow these tips on how to get over a fear of the dentist and you’ll set your child up for a healthy smile for life. Remember that it may take some patience but once your child sees the dental office as a friendly, non-threatening place, they’ll start taking their six month checkup in stride.
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