Is your child scared of the dentist? Even the best local dentists experience this. If your child is struggling to keep their oral health in check due to fear of the dentist, here are a few things you can try to help ease the fear of your local dentists.
Introduce Them Early
One of the best ways you can get ahead of the fear of the dentist is by acclimating your child to the environment as early as possible. By the time your child is one year old, you should make a trip to the dentist. This will help them to become familiar with the office and dentist themself. Spending time in the environment without anything scary happening will help create a better idea of what’s to come with each dentist visit.
Validate Their Fear
If your child is still afraid, start by meeting their needs. Your child needs to feel heard before they can move forward. One simple way you can accomplish this is by validating their fear. It’s okay to be scared sometimes! The equipment dentists use can be loud and uncomfortable. Creating an environment where it’s okay to be afraid or wary can help your child move into the next step.
Once your child’s needs have been met by validating their concerns, you can begin to move forward. One of the best ways to encourage a behavior is by providing a reward. If your child is scared of their upcoming dentist appointment, what can you reward them with afterward? Maybe this looks like a trip to the park after the dentist. Maybe your child has a best friend they’d like to play with afterward. Whatever it may be, rewarding your child for going to the dentist is a great way to help get your child out the door and make the appointment go more smoothly.
Set a Clear Expectation of At-Home Brushing
Another way you can help your child’s oral health if they’re afraid of the dentist is by making sure they’re taking good care of their teeth from home. According to the CDC, nearly 1 of 5 (20%) children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth. To avoid needing to see the dentist more frequently, make sure your child is brushing and flossing daily. Creating a routine can also help eliminate some of the fear of seeing the dentist when the time comes.
If your child is afraid of your local dentists, don’t lose hope. Many family dentists are familiar with this and may even work with you to create a more stress-free environment for the child. Some dentists will provide toys or distractions for timid children. The best thing you can do for a child who’s afraid of the local dentists is to work with the dental offices and provide rewards for positive behavior.