What if a few words could take fear away from your child?
No parent wants their child to ever feel scared and helpless. However, that’s exactly what happens with children suffering from a fear of the dentist.
However, your child doesn’t have to stay scared. Keep reading to learn about what’s behind this fear and how you can make it a thing of the past!
Why Do They Have a Fear of the Dentist?
Why are kids scared of the dentist? It turns out there are many different reasons.
Some children don’t like strangers. And going to the dentist involves a stranger’s hands all over your face and inside your mouth!
And the sound of tools such as the drill can be very intimidating. Children have active imaginations and are likely to think about that drill causing pain.
Finally, there’s the fear of blood. Various dental procedures may cause your child to see and taste blood, and that’s enough to freak some people out.
Fortunately, this fear is only temporary. Keep reading for nine tips to help make them less scared of the dentist!
1. Have Them Write It Down
It can be difficult for children to understand their fear. And if they can’t understand it, you won’t, either!
Have them write their fears down on a sheet of paper. This helps them organize their thoughts and realize what the primary fears are.
Afterward, you can try to discuss these specific fears with the child. And don’t be afraid to get the dentist in on this, too. The child seeing that the person they fear is worried about their happiness may go a long way towards eliminating their fear!
2. Show Them Reviews
It feels a little postmodern, but you should be able to find plenty of reviews of your dentist online. It can ease your child’s fears when they see good reviews.
Children tend to trust the experiences of other people. Adults do, too–this is how word-of-mouth advertising was born!
Either read the reviews to the child or let them read the reviews for themselves. You may want to highlight positive reviews from people who said they normally hate the dentist.
Seeing other people who had a change of heart may help your child have one, too.
3. Show Them the Atmosphere
For better or for worse, you’re likely to spend a lot of time in the waiting room of the dentist. This might be a time where your child is particularly anxious.
Use this time positively by getting them to focus on the environment. Maybe show them some children’s toys or some kid-friendly magazines or simply let them talk to the staff.
Your primary goal here is to help your child become comfortable in an environment that was previously scaring him. Once he realizes the “scary” dentist is someone who bought a lot of toys for kids to play with, he may look at the dentist with new eyes!
4. Show Them the Tools
The core of fear is our fear of the unknown. And that’s why many children are terrified of dental tools: they have no idea what the tools are!
Spend an afternoon researching these tools with your child. Show him how each one works and what it’s supposed to do.
This helps replace his fear with knowledge. And with any luck, he’ll see that every one of the tools is designed to help make his mouth healthier!
5. Go With Him
Many children have a major fear of the dentist because they fear being left by their parents during the appointment. Basically, they feel abandoned to a strange and scary person for a long time.
The most basic way to make your child feel better is to stay with them during the appointment. Being able to see you or simply knowing you are there will make everything seem a little less scary to the child.
And if it’s a dentist you’ve never been to, you’ll probably want to monitor their work for the first visit or two!
6. Non-verbal communication
Children may be scared that they cannot talk during a dental procedure. This is natural as their mouth will be filled with hands and tools.
Make sure your child works out a non-verbal communication system with the dentist. This will allow him to quickly let the dentist know if he is experiencing any kind of pain, helping ease your child’s fears.
7. Set Up a Reward System
Children really like to have an established routine. And, of course, children really like to receive presents!
Try to make a habit of buying your child a small gift after a dental procedure. This lets them focus on something happy while the actual procedure is going on.
Pretty soon, your child will look forward to the present more than dread the visit.
8. Use Healthy Distractions
Part of what brings a fear of the dentist is that your child is focusing on the scary sounds of things like the drill. Fortunately, distractions can help with this.
Ask the dentist if you can put a show on any TVs that are in the office. Alternately, you can bring noise-canceling headphones for your child to wear.
Between tuning in and tuning out, they’ll no longer be focusing on the scary sounds!
9. Focus On Prevention
This is as good a time as any to point out that regular dental care is the only way to avoid painful visits to the dentist. Use this time to instruct your kids in how to brush and floss really well every day and night.
Not only does this set them up for a lifetime of healthy habits, but it makes them a little less scared of going to the dentist. It focuses the child on an action they can take, which helps give them power.
The Bottom Line
No child should have a fear of the dentist. That’s where Ross Family Dentistry comes in.
We specialize in providing the kind of quality care that gives you a bigger, brighter smile. To see how we can transform your dental visits, simply contact us today!