20 Jun Are All Kids Afraid of the Dentist?
The short answer to this common question is that no, all children aren’t automatically afraid of the dentist. It’s age-appropriate for small children to be uncomfortable with strangers or to whine or cry during an examination. This is more a fear of the unknown than a fear of the dentist.
Children react and respond to the things in their own way, but they take their cues from their parents. If you’re afraid to go to the dentist, and you let your fear show, it’s much more likely that your child will also be afraid of the dentist. Some children are anxious in multiple situations and may become afraid before or after their first visit to the dentist in Mesa or Phoenix Arizona.
You can help set the atmosphere for your child so they have a pleasant, not-scary experience which will help them in the years ahead.
Preventing Dental Fear and Anxiety in Your Child
Ideally, as a parent, you can help your child see the dentist as a positive experience. Being afraid isn’t an inevitability, as long as you keep a few things in mind.
- Make going to the dentist a fun, positive experience. Talk about it like an adventure and something “big kids” get to do. If your dentist offers a little prize for children, use that information to your advantage.
- Keep your explanation of the dentist clear and easy to understand. Let your child know that dentist helps them clean their teeth and stay healthy. Talk about growing up with big, strong, and healthy teeth.
- Watch your language. Avoid words like “hurt” and “scary.” Even talk of needles and shots can be detrimental. These words can scare your child and also give them a false sense of what to expect. First visits are very easy with the dentist “counting” their teeth and cleaning them.
- Practice a first visit to help reduce fears of the unknown. Have your child see how wide they can open their mouth. Talk about a fun chair that goes up and down. Read a book about going to the dentist.
- Talk about going to the dentist as a routine thing everyone needs to do. If you treat dental checkups and cleanings as a normal part of life, your child will grow up thinking about it simply as something they do every six months. They won’t have to talk themselves into it or overcome fears about it.
Overcoming Fears of the Dentist
It’s possible that the first visits are past you, and your child is already nervous. Maybe they’re always nervous in new environments, despite your best efforts. The sooner you can reduce their anxieties, the better it will be for you and your child for future dental visits. Try some of these tips:
- Provide distractions during the visit. Talk to your dentist about what’s appropriate, because you don’t want anything to get in the way of their cleaning, either. Maybe they can listen to music or hold their favorite stuffed animal.
- Don’t let your anxiety show. Maybe they’re afraid because you’re afraid of the dentist. Now is a good time to work on your own fears.
- Try to work with the same dental assistants and hygienists at each appointment. This will help your child become familiar with specific people and they’ll know what to expect at each visit.
- Find a dentist you and your child are comfortable with. You want to find an office that’s good with kids and understands how to help younger patients. Good dentists take dental fears seriously but they also know how to help patients (of all ages) overcome them.
It’s not a foregone conclusion that your child has to be afraid of the dentist. You have more control in their early years than you realize. Talk about going to the dentist in a fun, open, and relaxed way, and your child won’t worry about what to expect. Make it a game for the first few visits, and it will be — for your child.
And if your child is nervous or has developed some fear, work with your dentist now to overcome those anxieties. By doing this, you’ll make sure your child maintains their dental health in the years to come. They’ll be healthier overall and won’t face some of the common dental problems you may have experienced. Talk to your dentist today about making sure your child has a great experience for their first visit.