Demystifying the dentist: How to prevent fear of the dentist in your child

Like many adults, there are a lot of children out there who are afraid of going to the dentist. The good news is that you can help your child understand that the dentist is not scary! Here are a few tips to make your child’s trips to the dentist a little easier.

 

Explain. Children and adults alike tend to fear the unknown. Children are usually a little less anxious or afraid in new situations if they know what to expect. Before a dentist appointment, talk with your child about what they can expect.

 

You can talk to them about what space will look like, and what the dentist is going to do. You and your child could even look at pictures of the practice online if they are available.

 

As a fear-free dentist, I want to make all of my patients feel as comfortable as possible. I offer information on my site that can help parents walk their children through what a typical appointment would be like. You can find this information here.  

 

Pretend. It’s time to play dentist! Before your child’s first appointment, act out the experience together. During this play exercise, you can take turns playing the role of the dentist and the patient.

 

You can use a recliner as a pretend dentist’s chair and have them open wide to show how the dentist will count their teeth. After you’ve taken them through the process once, it’s their turn to be the dentist! Let your child examine and count your teeth while you lie back in the “dentist’s chair.”

 

Support. As a parent, you know what situations tend to make your child nervous. You know what reassures them and makes them feel better, so just do what you know works.

 

Before their appointment, tell them again how nice everyone at the office will be. You can talk about how their experience will be easy and fun. Be sure to avoid any “scary” words like cavity, shot, hurt, or fear. Stay light and positive, and use language your child understands.

 

Keep Calm. Remember, it’s your job to be a source of calm for your child. If the dentist’s office makes you nervous or afraid, that’s something you have to consider before the day of your child’s appointment. If you’re anxious, your child might mirror your feelings.

 

Also, if your child starts to get upset or go into a tizzy before or during the appointment, stay calm. Talk to them in a low, soothing voice. Their acting out is nothing to be embarrassed about. We understand that this is a brand-new experience and can be scary!

 

Schedule. When scheduling your child’s appointment, keep their usual schedule in mind. Consider when they eat, when they nap, etc. You know your child the best, so pick the appointment time that you feel will be best for them. Also, don’t forget to tell your child when to expect to go to the dentist as part of your preparation process.

 

One more thing! At Shamblott Family Dentistry, we will do everything we can to make this experience as easy and enjoyable as possible for both you and your child. Don’t hesitate to call us with any questions that come up.