Life with kids can be fun but it comes with a lot of challenges. As a parent, you’re required to introduce your children to new experiences. Some of them can be really uncomfortable like the trip to the dentist.
If you have kids, you probably know that it’s important to make sure that their teeth are taken care of. But what if they consider the dental office, a torture chamber? Well, you can’t blame them as it is common to have a kid who has dental fear. Especially when dental tortures are both physical and mental. Here are seven tips to help ease your child’s dental fears, and the earlier you’re able to implement them, the better results you’ll get.
1) Identify the Fear
Dental fear among children is so widespread and it’s a very real thing. Some of the kids have a fear of needles (they don’t like the thought of injections into their gums), some of them might fear pain from a drill (mainly triggered by the sound of the drill), and sometimes a bad past experience with the dentist triggers their dental fear. These fear come with different names like odontophobia, dentophobia, and dental anxiety. These fears may affect the quality of their life if they’re left untreated. So, for your kids to have better oral health, you need to help your children to overcome their dental fear. But to help them, first, you’ve to find out what the problem is. Once you know exactly what they’re afraid of, you can start working towards a solution.
2) Look for a Good Pedodontist
Pedodontist otherwise known as Pediatric Dentist is someone who is specially trained to work with children. So, if your kid has a dental fear, search for a fun Pedodontist who can make their visit less daunting. A comprehensive, family oriented Pedodontist will provide your child with better dental care and child-friendly nurturing environment. Kids may not even make a big deal out of their dental visit if the office decor has decorative things that appeal to children or if it is equipped with kid-friendly movies, toys, and games. Finally, make sure that the Pedodontist you’ve finalized is friendly.
3) Start Early
Introduce the concept of dental care to your kids at a very young age. As the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends, schedule your kids’ first dental visit no later than his or her first visit. It will make your kids accustomed to the dentist and later on down the road it may help to prevent dental fear. Initiating the regular dental visits for your children at an early stage will lay a successful foundation for a bright future for them. The initial visit will also help them create a positive impression for when they begin to have regular visits to the dentist. It will also help in getting them to cooperate and communicate with the dentist in the future. Very little treatment is actually performed during the first visit. It is typically very brief session which is mostly a bonding session between the dentist and your child. With an early visit, you can ensure that the child’s fear of the dentist never sets in.
4) Play Pretend
Sometimes dental fear among children is all about fearing the unexpected drill. So, acting out some of the things they may encounter at the dentist office can help in alleviating their dental fear. If you have a recliner, make them sit ion it, count their teeth using a toothbrush and gently prod and poke a bit around their mouth. Use a mini-flashlight and see the inside of their mouth by pulling their cheek. Make them watch you in a mirror if possible. Spend a few minutes explaining to them how important oral health really is. You may also swap the roles depending on the age of your kids. Let them play a dentist on you or on their favorite stuffed animal.
5) Opt to go as Painless as Possible
If your child is afraid of the dentist, fear of pain is probably one of the reasons why. They might have a bad experience with dental pain before so they may be scared of a repeat experience. If they’re more fearful during their visit, they will tend to tense up which will eventually make them more sensitive to pain. Modern advances like Sedation Dentistry can make their dental experience painless.
At the same time products like precordial stethoscope will make sure that there are no negative repercussions of the process on your children. These things will make their appointment with the dentist more efficient and comfortable.
6) Reinforce the Positive
Positive reinforcement in terms of praise and small tangible rewards (e.g. temporary tattoos, stickers, baseball cards) can be a useful incentive for their “brave behavior” and for their cooperation. Planning a movie night that day or promising an ice-cream date later that week can’t hurt either. If the child gets fussy or throws temper tantrums either while waiting for their turn at the dentist office or during the treatment, don’t scold them. Instead, try a softer approach, like telling them how proud of them you’re or give them some “cash in” tokens after every successful dental visit.
7) Do Your Research
Start preparing your kids for the dentist with story time books, videos, and shows. There are a variety of options which can make their trip to the dentist seem like an adventure. A few great books are Let’s Meet the Dentist, Show Me Your Smile! A Visit to the Dentist with Dora The Explorer (featuring the adventurous Dora), and Max and Joe at the Dentist. These stories create a positive sense of expectation for children when they’re preparing for the dental visit through the shenanigans of some beloved character. Also, reading to kids can be a lot of fun and it is also proven to be a vital way to help them learn. The research will help you a lot. Be prepared!
If your kid has dental fear, try all of these tips or any combination of them until you find the ones that work best for your kid’s individual needs.
Written by: Ross Geller
Ross is a blogger who loves to write especially in the Health and dental vertical. He has written many informative blogs in other verticals too like personal development, unique gifting blogs etc.