Do you have a child that’s scared of the dentist? Are you struggling to figure out why dental fear in children is so prevalent?
Don’t worry – you’re not alone. The idea of having someone mess around with your teeth is scary looking equipment is enough to make anyone nervous, and kids aren’t an exception.
Most kids suffer from some sort of dental anxiety, but what should you do if your kids are too terrified to go?
In this article, we’ll outline how to ease dental anxiety in children and strategies to make sure they have a positive experience at their next appointment.
Give Them as Much Information as You Can
Unpredictability during a dentist appointment can be daunting for anyone. Dental fear in children can be partially overcome if kids know what’s going to happen once they step into their dentist’s office.
This study found that children who went through this “show don’t tell” approach had lower blood pressure than those who went into their appointments blind.
Parents can sit their kids down and talk through everything they’ll see and experience during the appointment. Their dentist can also show your child what equipment will be used what they’ll feel like so your child can have a better grasp on what they’ll feel.
Use Words Carefully
It’s important for parents to use the right words when dealing with their kids’ dental anxiety. While explaining the process thoroughly is useful, some words might actually create more fear and anxiety.
Words like “shot,” “hurt,” and “pain” can put a negative impression on an appointment your kids are already feeling pretty anxious about. Let the dentists’ staff explain the process as much as possible.
Ease Them Into It (If You Can)
Similar to our point about showing instead of telling, you can lower your child’s dental anxiety by having your dentist expose them to objects that they might fear. If your child is afraid of shots, for example, your dentist might show them the syringe and even simulate how he’ll use it with the cap on.
A less direct version of this can be showing your child positive dentistry images in the waiting room. This study found that using positive imagery can significantly decrease dental anxiety in children before an appointment.
Avoid Using Bribes
Parents often offer bribes to their kids when figuring out how to ease their dental anxiety, but we don’t recommend this. While the immediate reward for good behavior might be enough for some kids, it could give off the wrong idea about the appointment itself.
Offering your child a treat if they don’t cry or fuss during the checkup might indirectly make them apprehensive about what the dentist might do. Also, sugary candy is generally bad for your teeth, and offering that as a reward is contrary to the idea of good dental hygiene.
Above all, keep up the positivity when taking your child to the dentist. A great dentist knows how to deal with dental anxiety and how to remain positive throughout any procedure.
Telling them things like how their teeth are going to be stronger could brighten the mood in an otherwise stressful ordeal for your child. You could even tell them how brave they were after the appointment is over.
Overcome Dental Anxiety Today
Figuring out how to help a child not be scared of the dentist is a tall order that usually can’t be solved with a single solution. Leverage this article to find effective ways to lower your child’s dental anxiety so they can walk out of your dentist’s office feeling positive and relieved.
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