It’s normal for children to feel a bit anxious about their first visit to the dentist. After all, the dentist’s office is a new environment with different sounds, stimulations, unfamiliar people and unfamiliar tools!
Kids being scared of the dentist is completely normal and natural – and it probably indicates that you’re doing a good job of teaching your child not to dive headfirst into the unknown.
Although, just because it’s normal that your child is afraid of going to the dentist, it doesn’t mean that nothing can be done to make your child more comfortable. There are a number of ways you can help your child conquer their fear of going to the dentist!
Here are 5 ways to help ease your child’s dental anxiety:
1. Explain to your child why it’s important that everyone visits the dentist regularly.
If your child doesn’t understand why they need to visit the dentist, it’ll be a lot harder to get them to the dentist’s office. Consider showing your child pictures of beautiful, healthy smiles that result from regular care and maintenance.
Try to explain to your child that their dentist is on their side! Dentists are here to help children smile with beautiful, clean teeth for a lifetime.
2. Use positive words to explain how the dentist checks and cleans teeth.
If you create a positive narrative around dental check-ups, your child is more likely to think the dentist is a positive experience. Try framing the process as a simple check-up, where their dentist ‘counts’ each tooth (not examines) and ‘cleans the sugar’ from each tooth (not scraping or deep cleaning).
Using positive words that depict dentist visits as more of an experience than a task can create the idea that the dentist is fun, not scary.
3. Reward your child after their first few dental visits.
One of the most effective ways to teach your child how not to be scared of the dentist is by rewarding them after a successful visit. Tell your child ahead of time that a reward awaits them after the dentist’s office! The reward could be a new toy, extra time on the playground, an extra episode of their favorite show or seeing a movie on the weekend.
Whatever your child’s motivating factor may be, try rewarding them with it after their dentist visit to create a positive association with the dentist. When the time comes to visit the dentist again, your child’s fear of the dentist may be replaced with excitement for the dentist – because now they know that a successful visit means a reward is coming!
4. Do a mock dentist visit at home!
Another way to ease your child’s fear of the dentist is by performing a mock dentist visit at home in your bathroom. Get a little creative and use your imagination to ‘clean’ and ‘check’ your child’s teeth with their toothbrush or the end of a floss stick, so he or she is a little more familiar with the examination and cleaning process.
Demonstrate your own dentist visits and show how your dentist typically cleans your teeth. Knowing that their mom or dad goes to dental visits too can help your child feel more comfortable before their visit!
5. Use resources, like books and videos, to familiarize your child with the process.
There are plenty of kids’ books that you can read to your child and show exciting illustrations to help them get over their fear of the dentist. If their favorite book character or YouTube personality goes to the dentist too, then it can’t be so bad!
Try reading these dentist-friendly children’s books with your child to create an exciting narrative around the Dentist:
- Dr. Seuss’ The Tooth Book
- The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist
- Ready, Set, Brush! With Sesame Street
Your Kids Smiles team is here to help!
We are proud to be leading pediatric dental experts in Tampa Bay and Bradenton. We are here to help you and your child adjust to their new world of dentist visits in any way that we can. If you think it would be helpful to introduce your child to our team before their appointment, please let us know and we are happy to make that happen.
It’s important to us that we cultivate an environment that makes children feel comfortable, calm and safe. We use a “tell, show, do” philosophy to earn your child’s trust!
We “tell” by explaining the process in child-friendly words. We “show” by demonstrating what we’ll be doing. Then, we “do” the treatment. We find that this philosophy makes children feel most comfortable!
We also provide sedation dentistry for longer procedures, and treatment for very young children and children with medical challenges.
You and your child are in great hands with our trusted team. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions, and if you’re ready to schedule your child’s visit, let’s get started!