7 Tips for Overcoming Fear of Dentists
At Tooth Fairy Smiles, we believe a dentist visit should be a positive experience where children can learn about their oral health. Unfortunately, it can be stigmatized as scary and painful. This causes many children to not like going to the dentist. Here are some great tips for overcoming fear of dentists.
1. Play Pretend
Playtime is always a great way to communicate ideas with your child. Make them feel comfortable by playing out a practice visit at home. Get a toothbrush and a cup of water. Have them practice rinsing and spitting We recommend that you don’t simulate drilling. Try counting their teeth or have them count their own while holding up a mirror. You can also roll play by having your child examine a doll or stuffed animal. You can even familiarize them with the anatomy of a tooth.
2. Create Positive Reinforcement
It is not recommended to use bribes. Also, avoid words like shots, hurt or pain. Instead talk to your child about how clean and healthy your teeth feel. This helps in overcoming fear of dentists by focusing on why the dentist is a good experience, not that the dentist is a scary place to be worried about. If time warrants, have them stop by the office and get familiar with the place before their first exam.
3. Start Young
One of the best ways to overcoming fear of dentists is to start young. Start taking your child to see a pediatric dentist from an early age. Check out our Tooth Timeline to see when the best time is to bring in your child. This will help establish a sense of ease and comfort.
4. Avoid Telling Scary Dentist Stories
Some parents try to tell their children stories of their own dentist fears or bring their children along for a trip to an adult dentist. This is not a good idea because your child may pick up on your own dislike of the dentist and this can increase their anxiety.
5. Stay with Your Child
Stay with your child in the room. The dentist may request you to stay at a distance or hold your child’s hand. Whichever the dentist prefers it is important that your child knows you are there for them, calm, and respectful of the dentist’s instructions.
6. Prioritize Oral Health at Home
If you put dental health first at home your home, prioritizing brushing and flossing daily, then the idea of going to a doctor for teeth will not be as foreign or scary to the child.
7. Prepare for Some Fussing Behavior
It is normal for young children to move around, fussing, crying, or whining, during their first trips to the dentist. It is most important for you as a parent to stay calm and trust the dentists and staff to handle it most effectively. Unless you are asked to do otherwise, do not get involved. This will only reinforce your child’s negative behavior, and not help in overcoming fear of dentists.
Going to the dentist can be a very big fear for many kids. It is important to introduce your child to the dentist carefully so that you do not add to any of their fears. If you have any questions about your child’s trip or want to talk about other commonly asked questions, contact Tooth Fairy Smiles today.