As a parent, you know that your child’s oral health is very important. However, dental-phobia is all too common in children, making it hard for you to get them to the dentist. Everywhere from the cartoons they watch to the books they read, dentists are portrayed as the bad guy. It can be hard to convince your child that going to the dentist isn’t scary at all. If you’ve tried to get your dental-phobic child to the dentist but to no avail, try our five tips.
- Take Care of Your Dental Fears First
If you have a fear of going to the dentist, it will need to be addressed prior to taking your child for their checkup. Sometimes we don’t realize when we’re apprehensive about something, but it shows in our bodies and faces. You may not say that you’re actually scared of going to the dentist yourself, but your body language can be loud and clear. Your kids will pick up on your dental fear and it will only increase their own. So, before tackling their dental-phobia, tackle your own.
- Help Them Understand That the Dentist is a Friend
If you don’t suffer from dental-phobia, you can move right on to this tip. No matter what they’ve seen in cartoons, you need to convince your child that their dentist is a good person who only wants the best for them. Dentists get a bad rap even though they’re only doing their jobs. Dentists have special training when it comes to young patients, and want to ensure that the child feels safe during each visit. Most dentists will be very accommodating to their young patients and will arrange a “meet and greet” prior to the dental appointment. The best way to introduce your child to the dental office is to bring them along when you attend for your next cleaning. This lets them watch what happens when a parent is in the chair and gets them accustomed to the people and environment. Children, being naturally curious, will gradually start to ask all sorts of questions that will help them see the dental office in a new light.
- Avoid Using Certain Words
When talking to your children about going to the dentist, keep your language light. Don’t use words like “pain”, “hurt”, or anything else that would convey discomfort. When you’re describing a typical visit to the dentist, use language that is fluffy. For example, you can refer to the dental procedure as a “smile check” or come up with your own fun language to describe going to the dentist.
- Signal for a Break
Before you go to the dentist with your child, let them create a signal for when they feel overwhelmed. It could be a simple hand gesture that helps you know that the dentist needs to stop for a second and let your child get their bearings back. If you have a child that has a tendency to scream when they feel alarmed, it will be very hard for them to do that when they have dental instruments in their mouths. In this case, a signal will be greatly appreciated. Discuss the signal with the dentist too, so they know what’s going on. Run a practice round with the dentist letting your child know that when they use their signal everything will stop for a moment. Plus, signaling will help your child feel in control of the situation and they are less likely to be scared.
- Explain That Good Oral Health Isn’t a Choice
A great way to get your children to shed their dental-phobia is to show them that maintaining a healthy smile is not an option, but rather a way of life. They have to visit a dentist and keep their teeth strong, otherwise they won’t be able to enjoy their favourite foods or be proud of their smile.
If your child is scared of the dentist Pearl Dental can help! Contact us today and we’ll make your young one’s visit to the dentist a fun educational one.