Being afraid of the dentist is something that is very common, mainly because it involves the use of several scary-looking tools and it can be quite uncomfortable, depending on what it is you’re having done and your general dental hygiene and health. A fear of the dentist often arises from not visiting them enough, and apprehension can begin during childhood.
So it is no wonder that parents across the world are trying to make sure that their children are not afraid of going to the dentist. With this in mind, here are some tips for children who either already have developed a fear of the dentist, or for children who are yet to pay them a visit.
1. Have a positive attitude towards the dentist
You should not refer to the dentist in a negative manner, especially around your children. Children can pick up on negative attitudes and they will then apply that to their own experience, even before they have actually gone to see the dentist. Always talk positively about the dentist, even if you are not so keen on it yourself. Give the impression that it is harmless and nothing to worry about and then your children will soon follow suit.
2. Take your children to your own dental appointments
Children learn best from others, so if you take them to your own dental check-ups, and they see that you are comfortable and happy in the dentist’s chair, then they will soon realise that there is nothing to be scared of. In addition to taking them with you to your own dental appointments, let them watch you floss and brush your teeth. Talk to them about why you are doing it and what happens if you don’t do it so regularly.
3. Take them to the dentist from a young age
You should be taking your child to the dentist as soon as their milk teeth start to appear. Where this might seem too early, especially if they are under a year old, a dentist can monitor teeth protrusion whilst also getting them used to the dental environment. Your dentist will also be able to provide you with expert advice about preventing tooth decay. Make sure you take them to the dentist as soon as possible so that they don’t become scared or apprehensive of the dentist later in life.
4. Visit a dentist who specialises in paediatric dentistry
The team of specialist dentists here at Quorn Dental Practice & Implant Clinic is pleased to provide family dentistry, including child check-ups. We have a highly-experienced, professional team who can always be counted upon to provide a comfortable, pleasant experience for, not only your children, but the entire family. By choosing a dentist who has experience with children, you are starting off on the right foot if you are trying to teach them not to be scared of the dentist.
5. Pretend to be the dentist at home
Much like playing “doctors” in your living room, you can try playing “dentist” instead. There are several toy implements that mimic that of the dentists’ real tools. Use these in a playful manner, especially if your child has never visited the dentist before. This helps them to know what to expect, meaning there will be no unpleasant surprises for them that could become ingrained in them for life.
6. Use positive reinforcement
After going to the dentist, give your child a reward. Where this could come in the form of a treat, like sweets or chocolate, you should refrain from giving them food that could, ironically, cause them tooth decay. The more decay there is, the more trips to the dentist, but treatment for tooth decay might not always be pain-free.
To preserve your child’s teeth and to keep them in great condition, reward your child with a trip to the park or take them to the cinema. Not only does this prevent your child’s teeth from decaying, but it also teaches them that food, such as sweets and chocolate, can be damaging to their oral health.
7. Be consistent
It’s all very well and good taking your child for a dental check up and then leaving it for a year or so, but you actually need to be taking them for dental check-ups as much as you do, which is every six months. If you aren’t making regular dental visits, then your child won’t have the opportunity to build any trust between themselves and the dentist. A check up is entirely painless but it is one of the most effective preventive measures when it comes to tooth decay. Essentially, regular dental check-ups for your child are a win-win for everyone.
8. Help the dentist to find some common ground with your child
Something you can do to help your child to get used to the dentist, and something that will help them to build a rapport with each other, is by giving your dentist some details about your child. Tell them the television programmes they like to watch or the sports they like to play.
Does your child play any musical instruments or like a specific singer or a movie? If so, tell your dentist this so that they can have a conversation that has positive threads throughout. If your child looks at your dentist as someone who is only there to be their friend, then they will feel a lot more comfortable when the dentist begins their work.
Quorn Dental Practice & Implant Clinic is proud to provide family dentistry to patients throughout Loughborough and the surrounding areas. We endeavour to make sure that our patients always feel safe and comfortable whilst undergoing treatment and check-ups with us, no matter how old you might be. For more information about how we can help you today, get in touch with a member of our professional, knowledgeable team – we are always happy to hear from you.