Despite the essential services that children’s dentists provide, “dentophobia,” or fear of the dentist, is incredibly common. Even simple teeth cleanings can evoke stress and anxiety, especially among young children. Thankfully, there are steps parents can take to make every exam easier than the last. If your kids hate going to the dentist, try the following strategies to show them that there’s nothing to be afraid of.
How to Help Children Overcome Dental Anxiety
1. Practice at Home
Fear of the unknown is the biggest contributor to dentophobia. Giving your child pretend “exams” and “teeth cleanings” at home can relieve some of the anxiety surrounding upcoming appointments.
Not only will this ensure your child knows what to expect, but it will also let you set a good example. If you’re not scared when your kid inspects your teeth, they’ll be less likely to worry on the next trip to the dentist.
2. Keep a Positive Attitude
While you should certainly answer your kids’s questions about the children’s dentist in an honest, simple, and age-appropriate way, try to use positive verbiage when doing so. For example, do not use words like “shots” or “pain” and don’t discuss any procedures in graphic detail.
Instead, focus on the positives. Tell them that they’ll leave the office with a fresh mouth or remind them that they’ll receive a sticker or new toothbrush after the cleaning.
3. Stay on Top of Preventive Care
Scheduling regular teeth cleanings and exams for your children — generally every six months — will allow your child’s dentist to address minor concerns before they turn into major dental issues. While advancements in restorative care have made procedures minimally invasive and virtually pain-free, undergoing a lot of dental work at one time can be overwhelming for a child.
Scheduling frequent appointments will also familiarize your children with their oral care providers. After enough visits, they might even call their dentist a friend and be excited for their next appointment.
The friendly team at Dentistry For Kids knows how to put even the fussiest patients at ease. The next time your kids are due for a teeth cleaning, turn to this office in Pearl City, HI. Led by Paul K. Seo, D.D.S., M.S., this pediatric dental practice provides comprehensive care for residents of Oahu. To make an appointment for your little one, reach out on their website or call (808) 486-8881.