Taking your young child to the dentist can be a challenge in itself. The first few times they might fuss or even cry. The unfamiliar faces, weird smells, and metal objects are scary to young children. But what do you do if your child has a constant fear of the dentist? Even as they get older, their fear becomes more real or more intense. As a parent, it can be hard to watch your child be so scared of something when there is no need to be. Here are some helpful tips to help calm your child before heading to the dentist office.
- Avoid Bribing
Many parents use bribery to get their children to stay calm. It is important not to use bribery to avoid phrases such as, “If you don’t cry you can have a lollipop.” This might make your child think that there is a reason to be crying. Also, promising a sweet treat sends the wrong message to your child about about dental hygiene. Instead, wait until after the visit to praise your child for good behavior, or surprise them with a small toy.
- Read Books
Find a children’s book that explains going to the dentist. Books can be very informational on the logistics of the dentist, showing children why the dentist is doing what they are doing. Try a coloring book, pop-up book, or character book. Make the book has interesting and fun as possible. Having fun reading a book while teaching them about the dentist can help them relate when it is time for their visit. They might recall the book which will help them remain calm during their experience.
- Be Understanding
Let your child know that you understand their fear of the dentist. Telling them there is no reason to be scared might tell your child that they are being irrational and make them feel even more anxious. Talking to your child about what scares them can help you try to resolve the issue. If they don’t like the unfamiliar faces, try to take them more frequently and request the same dental hygienist every time. If the sounds are what is bothering them, bring a pair of earplugs, or ask the dentist to put music on.
A fear of the dentist is normal and while it may be hard, it can be fixed. If a child’s fear is never acknowledged, it can stay with them into adulthood, which can take a toll on their dental health, as well as their mental health. Try these tips or comment some of your own tips to help other parents. When you and your little one are ready to try again, give us a call at (209) 537-5783, or fill out the web form.