6 Tips To Help Your Child Conquer Their Dental Fears
Let’s face it; no one ever jumps out of bed in the morning like, “Hooray! I have a dentist appointment today!” Most patients aren’t that thrilled to visit the dentist, but because we’re adults, sometimes we do things that we don’t really like because they’re good for us. (Hello, maturity.) And since us grown ups know that visiting the dentist is beneficial for us, we swallow any dental anxieties that we might have, and we go anyway. Not so for some kids, unfortunately. To them, the dentist can seem like a big and scary monster wielding an arsenal of shiny sharp tools.
Wurzbach Parkway Family Dental understands that the anxiety your child feels about their dental appointment is very real to them. That’s why we’ve put together a list of tips to soothe their anxiety when visiting the dentist. These techniques will comfort your child and help them to see the dentist as less of a big and scary monster and more of a helpful and healing character in their lives.
Day(s) Before The Appointment
- Have A Sit-Down Chat. Pick a time with no distractions to sit down with your child and talk about their feelings. Learn where their fear is coming from. Maybe they saw something on TV or in a movie, read something, or heard scary stories from kids at school. Understanding the root of their fear is the first step to alleviating it. You can stomp out the small fires of misinformation while at the same time showing your child that you acknowledge and care about their feelings. Try sharing your experiences with the dentist, admit to a couple fears of your own, and thank your child for being brave enough to confide the things they’re scared of.
- Notify The Dentist. For children with extra anxiety, it might alleviate some of your anxiety about their anxiety by notifying the dentist beforehand. This allows your child’s dentist to plan ahead by taking some extra time before the examination to talk with your child and help calm them down, as well as maybe set aside some extra toys, games, distractions, or good-behavior prizes for them.This also lets the dentist know that you’re aware of your child’s anxiety and that you two will be working as a team towards the goal of a successful dental visit.
- Arrange a Meet-and-Greet. The unfamiliar is always much scarier than the familiar. A visit to the dentist office before the appointment will help your child get to know both the place and the people who work there.
- Schedule Appointments Appropriately. Skipping a nap to visit the dentist can make for a frustrating visit on all sides. Scheduling a dental appointment after a long day of school can be exhausting. Shoot for a time when your child is more rested and less stressed.Also, if you have multiple kids, order your appointments so that the least anxious child has theirs first. Bring the more anxious child along so they can watch and learn from their role model. Or schedule yourself a dental appointment and bring your child along so they can see you set a good example for them.
Day Of Appointment
- Don’t Go Hungry! We’re all a little grumpier when we’re hungry. A dentist appointment on an empty stomach can compound anxiety by adding the “hangries” on top of the fear your child is already feeling. Be sure to have them brush their teeth after the meal and before the appointment as a common courtesy.
- Help Your Child’s Dentist. As the parent, you are there as moral support and a symbol of strength and safety for your child, but what about your dentist? You need to show your child that you trust their dentist as their caretaker as well. Remember, we deal with nervous patients as part of their job, so have faith that we’ve picked up some tricks along the way to help soothe those patients. Give your dentist the opportunity to turn your child’s exam into a positive and successful experience.
The best way to prepare you child for the dentist is instilling them with proper dental hygiene habits. That way their appointments go quickly and smoothly, plus they learn the importance of proper tooth cleaning and why it’s good for them. Educate them on how to care for their teeth and what happens when they don’t. The more your child understands about the “whys” of good oral hygiene, the more motivated they will be to take control of their health and practice good habits for the rest of their lives. For more information about how we can ease your child’s dental anxiety or to schedule an appointment, please feel free to contact us today.