Helping Kids Overcome Their Fear of the Dentist
While we at Pearl Dental P.C. pride ourselves in our friendly staff and comfortable environment, a trip to the dentist can still be a scary experience for a young child. To them, the dentist is just a stranger they’ve never met prodding around inside their mouth with sharp and shiny objects. Here’s a list of a few ways that you can make the dentist’s office a bit less of an intimidating place for your kids.
- Establish Comfort: One reason small children may become upset at the dentist is that they’re not used to being away from their home, their favorite toys, and their parents. By playing with your child in the waiting room and asking if you can accompany them on their first visit, you can replicate some of the comforts of home.
- Start Them Early: Fear at all ages often comes from a lack of familiarity. If you take your child to the dentist at a young age, they’ll have more time to develop the comfort level necessary to squelch any fears they may have had. Don’t wait until your kid is having a dental problem to bring them in for their first checkup. Then you’re asking them to deal both with tooth pain and a new alien environment.
- Avoid Bribing Them: Positive reinforcement is a good practice with kids, but promising a treat or reward for a good visit to the dentist can create problems down the road. Not to mention a sugary treat after the dentist can send mixed messages. After a good visit, stick to verbal reinforcement, by telling them how brave and well-behaved they were.
- Role Play a Pretend Visit: Many children benefit from role-playing a visit to the dentist before trying the real thing. Getting a pretend checkup from their mom or dad is much easier for them than a complete stranger, and a successful trial run may give them some sense of familiarity and comfort leading up to the real thing. Just don’t get too realistic and start making fake drilling noises and using sharp objects.
- Stress Its Importance: Kids don’t like a lot of things, and trying to get out of those things is one of their most common pastimes. But if you make sure they know the importance of visiting the dentist and proper oral health and how this is one of those things they just can’t get out of, they’ll be quicker to move on and accept dentist trips as a fact of life.
Regardless of what you do, many kids can still be fussy during their first few trips to the dentist. But if you follow the guidelines above and schedule your checkup with the Pearl Dental P.C. offices, you can help minimize that fussiness and put your child on the road to a lifetime of good oral health.