Illustration for article titled What To Do When Your Child Is Afraid of the DentistPhoto: AKIRA_PHOTO (Shutterstock)

If we get out of our pandemic cocoons and start catching up on all the things that we either deliberately put off over the past year or that we just couldn’t fathom, we may come to the realization that it’s been far too long since a dentist saw it in our child’s mouth. Whether it’s your first time visiting or it has been a while since your last clean, you may be scared of sitting in the big chair.

If so, there are a few things you can do beforehand to make the experience less painful for them (and you).

Start them early

You may need to take your child to the dentist Sooner than you think (when your first tooth appears or by your first birthday at the latest). If you start these visits early, before you even know what’s going on, they will get used to the office and operations – and are less likely to develop fear of them.

However, if you’ve waited a little longer and aren’t sure what to expect, you can try doing some dental role-playing at home. The next time they prepare to brush their teeth, pretend to be a dentist, examine and count their teeth with a toothbrush – and then alternate them with you or a favorite doll or stuffed animal. Turning it into a game can help alleviate your fear of the unknown.

Opt for a pediatric dentist

The dentist you have visited all your adult life is likely to be great. However, if your child is afraid of this experience, it is best to take them to a pediatric dentist.

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Pediatric dentists, as the name suggests, specialize in children’s oral health. They have all sorts of tricks to relieve a child’s stress, they use the best non-threatening language to describe the tools, and they practice storytelling and motivating kids in ways that are beyond the actual cleansing distracts. Also, a children’s dental office is likely a brighter, happier, and more welcoming place for a child than the more sterile white walls in your dental office.

Slowly wade in

If your child gets particularly nervous in new situations or places, you can go to the office with them before the appointment so they can check the toys in the waiting room and meet the dentist before they sit in the big chair.

You can also have them take you to your next appointment so they can watch your teeth being cleaned and an introduction to all of the strange noises the tools make without putting yourself in this vulnerable position with your mouth open are located. (This assumes you aren’t afraid to go to the dentist. If you do, leave them at home.)

If you know they are still nervous, be sure to let the office know in advance so they can be prepared with their most comforting tactics. And choose a date when you are most likely to be rested, full, and in the best of moods.

Avoid creating fear

In particular, avoid using words like “pain,” “pain,” or “shot” when your child is about to have an operation; B. a cavity filling. When they have questions, keep your answers as simple and straightforward as possible and focus on the goal – strong, healthy teeth. The dentist can be the one to provide more detailed answers as they are able to describe dental procedures in a child-friendly manner.

If you’re nervous because you know you’re nervous – or because you’re not a fan of the dentist either – bury those feelings deeply. They will pick up on any fear you show. So try to be positive about the experience yourself.

You might be tempted to promise them a reward for getting the visit through, but this can actually backfire: if you promise them a pleasure, be brave or have a good visit, it must mean it in some way difficult or scary – if it’s not a big deal, there is no need to promise them a reward, is there? Children learn these kind of nuances, and it could make them worry about why they wouldn’t have a good visit.

(You can reward them later if you want – just don’t promise beforehand.)