It’s no secret that a lot of children fear going to the dentist. Dentophobia, also known as dental anxiety, is a fairly common condition in young children that can follow them into adulthood if it’s not adequately addressed. There are many reasons dental fear in children exists. Whether they’ve had a bad experience themselves or they hear adults talking about having a bad experience at the dentist, young children are very impressionable and can easily be influenced by the things they hear and see. This can lead them to develop negative feelings towards dentists that can then manifest into dental fear and anxiety.
Here are some useful tips to help your child overcome their dental fear and actually enjoy going to the dentist.
Give Your Child Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is the act of rewarding your child every time they do something right. The rewards don’t have to be grand or expensive gestures. It could be something as simple as telling them how brave they are for getting dental treatment done. The goal is to help your child overcome their dental fears and anxieties by creating positive experiences and associations with going to the dentist. Telling them positive stories about your own experience at the dentist is also effective.
Prepare Your Child with Role Playing Activities
Another proven method to help alleviate stress and anxiety in unfamiliar situations is role playing. This is a form of play that allows kids to act out different scenarios, so they can see the different outcomes. Through role playing, you can prepare your child for what they can expect to happen when they go to the dentist, so that it won’t be as scary for them. Explain the basic dental procedures such as teeth cleaning, checkups, or any other treatments they might require. You should talk about the benefits of these treatments, so your child understands the merits of going to the dentist.
Find Ways to Comfort and Distract Them
Children need a familiar face to help comfort and calm them down when they’re feeling anxious. No one knows their child better than a parent or guardian. If your child experiences dental fear or anxiety, find a way to comfort and distract them. You could let them bring their favourite toy or a blankie to comfort them or distract them by making them laugh, playing games, or telling them funny jokes and stories to take their minds off the fact that they’re about to undergo dental treatment.
Take Them to the Dentist from an Early Age
The sooner you start taking your kids to the dentist, the better. Early children’s dental care is vital to their oral health and it can help them get used to going to the dentist at a young age, so they won’t be as scared when they’re older. According to the Canadian Dental Association, infants’ first dental appointments should be scheduled approximately six months after their first tooth erupts or at the one-year mark.
Educating your kids about the importance of maintaining good dental health from a young age will instill good oral hygiene habits in them that they’ll carry well into adulthood.
At Princeview Dental, we provide a variety of oral care procedures and methods for the whole family including children’s dentistry. Our compassionate and experienced staff will ensure that your child feels completely comfortable while in our care. Contact us today to learn more or to book an appointment.