Even though it’s important for your child to visit the dentist regularly, they may feel nervous or anxious. These are normal child phobias. Here are a few ways to talk to your child to dispel fears of the dentist.
Acknowledge Child Phobias
If your child expresses fears about the dentist, it’s important to acknowledge how they feel. Dismissing their feelings won’t help dispel fears of the dentist. In fact, it might make them feel more anxious or frustrated.
Don’t say, “Why are you worrying? It will be fine.” Instead, show that you understand how they are feeling. Say, “You seem a little nervous about your dentist visit.” Then you can talk about it using the other tips below.
Discuss the Benefits of a Dentist Visit
Remind your child that the dentist helps them stay healthy and keep their teeth clean. Talk to your child about all the benefits of healthy teeth, such as being able to eat yummy foods and being able to speak properly to friends and family.
Avoid mentioning too many consequences of not going to the dentist. The idea alone of having a cavity filled or the image of teeth falling out could be scary enough.
Read a Story about the Dentist
Sometimes children learn best through stories. Words and concepts they recognize, along with fun characters and colorful images, can help them understand more about the dentist and learn that they don’t have to be afraid. You can find books at your local library or look for videos of them being read aloud online.
Answer Your Child’s Questions
Your child may have tons of questions about their upcoming dentist visit. Try to patiently and honestly answer as many as you can. For example, if they ask if it will hurt, you can answer that it might hurt a little bit but not for long.
Explain What Happens at the Dentist’s Office
Help prepare your child for the day of their dentist visit by providing details of everything they can expect. Start with the timing of the visit, such as whether you’ll have to pick them up early from school. Talk about waiting in the office area. Walk them through each step of the appointment, from X-rays to cleanings.
If you aren’t sure of exactly what will take place, call your pediatric dentist for the details and steps so that you can share them with your child.
Healthy Smiles Children’s Dentistry specializes in child phobias and has options including sedation to help your child have a comfortable visit to the office.