6 Tips to Ease Your Child’s Fear of the Dentist
If your child is afraid of the dentist, you’re not alone. Many children experience some degree of “dental phobia,” and it makes sense! Given the bright lights and strange instruments in the dental office, it’s easy to understand why kids can find the experience so scary. With a little commitment and dedication, though, you can help your kids overcome their fear of the dentist.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Start Them Young
The younger your child starts seeing the dentist, the better. As a general rule, kids should have their first dental visit right around age one, or when their first tooth is visible through the gums. Starting a child’s dental care early allows them to get used to the experience and grow up understanding the dentist is a helpful place, not a scary one.
2. Skip the Details
Kids don’t need to know the nitty-gritty of how a dentist is going to clean their teeth or what, exactly is going to happen. That’s not to say you should withhold information, just that children will benefit from a more simple explanation. Instead, keep it simple, straightforward, and honest. Kids should know what to expect, without being overwhelmed with additional details.
3. Choose a Kid-Friendly Dentist
To make the dental experience more enjoyable for your child, work with a dentist that offers child-specific services. This dentist’s office will likely be more kid-friendly (toys and a play area, for example), and will provide a more welcoming experience for children.
4. Talk About Fears
Your child will have his or her dental fears, and that’s okay. Make sure you’ve created some space to talk about those fears in an honest and open way. When you treat your child like their fears are valid and understandable, it can help those fears dissipate and make for a smoother visit.
5. Teach Good Dental Care at Home
Help your child regard the dentist as a helpful friend, rather than a fearsome foe. Kid-friendly toothbrushes and colored toothpastes can help you all get on the same page about dental care, and make caring for teeth fun in both the dental office and at home.
6. Reward Good Visits
If your child has a great visit to the dentist, don’t forget to reward it! But stay away from the sugary candy. Instead, take your child out for a fun activity or eat a healthy snack like fruit and hummus.