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5 Steps To Ease Your Child's Fear Of The Dentist
PHOTO BY @Vasyl Dolmatov/iStock
  • Parents and dentists both play a vital role in a child’s first check-up at the dentist's clinic. Dentophobia or anxiety associated with seeing the dentist is common among children. Some are able to overcome this fear early on, but there are some who retain this fear into adulthood, causing them to avoid dental care, which eventually leads to tooth decay. Below is the list of how you can help your child get rid of dentophobia.

    How to ease your child's fear of the dentist

    1. Start them young.

    The earlier your child starts seeing the dentist, the better.  Explain and stress to your child how important it is to maintain healthy teeth and gums by brushing their teeth. You could begin visiting the dentist for some light teeth cleaning just enough for your child to feel at ease with the dentist’ clinic and see that they are friendly. Having regular check-up routines will help them see that a dentist’s office is a normal environment they can be comfortable with. The routine will eventually help them get used to it. 

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    2. Do play pretend.

    Bringing the world of dental office to your into your home and associating it with positive experience is a great idea especially for first timers. You can demonstrate to your child how it’s going to be. You can use your child’s stuffed toys and dolls and pretend that you are a dentist. You can also let her brush or check your teeth. Avoid adding sound effects while doing the pretend play and make it as natural as it can be. You can also read children’s books or show them videos. 

    3. Keep it positive but honest.

    It is natural, especially for first timers, to ask many questions and you should answer and explain honestly but positively. Do not give your child information that they are not ready to hear yet because it might scare them. Remind them that they can ask the dentist questions too. Do not talk about all the things that could happen at the dentist’s office — let the dentist do the explaining. Dental professionals are trained to discuss procedures to children in a non-threatening way. Furthermore, show a positive attitude when discussing the visit but don’t give them false hopes. Doing so will make things worse when your child needs to undergo a more complex treatment.

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    4. Find a child-friendly dentist.

    Choose a dentist who is trained to gently speak and is comfortable with children. Informing the dentist beforehand is a good move so that they’ll be prepared of the visit. Professional dentists have their way of drawing a child’s attention while doing the procedure such as telling stories or engaging them in a friendly and not-so-serious conversation. The environment adds to the comfort of your child. Having an examination room and office that are cheerfully decorated is a plus point. Once you’re at the office, you can bring a toy they could hold or let them listen to music while they get the procedure. You can also hold their hand to give them comfort.

    5. Do not bribe your child to go to the dentist.

    Promising any reward after the visit will lead your child to think that something terrible is about to happen. It might scare them and increase their apprehension. However, once the appointment is done, you can praise them for showing good behavior and their bravery. You may also consider giving them a small reward once in a while like simple toys to encourage them to visit the dentist more.

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    Helping your child develop a good attitude towards dental hygiene should really start at home. It is important to provide a positive dental experience at the dentist during your child’s early years. Helping them understand and see visiting the dentist as a necessity and not a choice will help them to master it.  

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