3 Ways To Help Your Young Child Overcome Their Fear Of The Dentist

Dental anxiety is common in people of all ages, but young children can have a harder time dealing with their fears than adults. Building a positive perception of the dentist is important from an early age. Here's how you can help your child feel less afraid and more comfortable at the dentist.

1. See a Dentist Your Child Likes

A big part of helping your child get over his fear of dental visits and procedures is to make sure they get along well with the dentist. A good relationship can turn visits from something to fear into something your child even looks forward to. Perception is important, and if your child likes their dentist, anything that dentist needs to do will seem much less frightening.

It helps to build an association between the dentist and positive things, not just the work they do. If you're searching for a new dentist, bring your child in to meet the dentist and talk with them first. This way, your child has memories of the dentist that aren't just unpleasant dental work. This also lets you see how your dentist interacts with your child directly, which can help with any individual needs your child may have. Also, ask about their specific experience

If you have a dentist you'd like to keep, be open and honest about your child's fear and ask what they can do to help. Involving your child in this discussion can also help; listen to what they say makes them uncomfortable and afraid and talk about how it can be helped during and outside of visits. Help them verbalize their anxieties by making a list of things to talk to the dentist about.

2. Set a Positive Example

Children take many cues from their parents as to how to react to different situations. If you're afraid of something, your child will be too. Treating a visit to the dentist like something normal, or maybe even something to enjoy, can help change their perception of what going to the dentist should feel like. There are several ways you can do this:

  • Be proactive about their dental health while at home, ask them questions a dentist might ask, and even have fake "exams" at home where you check their teeth. Turn tooth brushing and dental care into fun activities. This turns many tasks from scary things a dentist does to something comfortable that can happen at home, too.
  • When you have an appointment of your own, talk to your child about it in a positive way. Being calm and confident can help show your child that not only are dentists for everyone and not just kids but that it can also be an enjoyable thing to do. Share a funny story from your visit or say hello from your dentist.
  • Use child-friendly terminology when describing various procedures and tools. You can take some cues from your dentist here. Talking about pain and tools can make it sound intimidating and scary, but changing the way you communicate can make a big difference.

3. Explore Treatment Options

Sometimes dental fears and anxieties can reach a point where the previous steps will only accomplish so much. If this is the case, your dentist may be able to use various types of sedating medications to help your child stay calm during the visit. A family dentist will use completely safe medications, but if you're concerned about how they work, ask your dentist for details. In the short-term, this can help your child get through tough visits for necessary dental work.

Going forward, consider letting your child see a therapist or counselor. They can help analyze and work through your child's fears in a way that will reduce their anxiety over time. If their fear is such that it interferes with even basic checkups, this is an excellent option to explore.

For more information, contact a professional like James V Bachman DMD today.