If you have children nervous about visiting the dentist then you’re not alone. Horror stories from teasing older siblings, or just a simple fear of the unknown, can make the whole experience very frightening. However, it doesn’t have to be this way, as there are some very easy ways to help children who are nervous about a dental visit and make it seem much less intimidating.
1. Start kids early
Get your children used to going to the dentist from an early age when fear has less force. It is recommended that you try to take your children to a dentist before they turn one or when that first tooth arrives. The smell of the dental surgery, the feel of someone looking in your mouth and the various instruments that are used will all be less scary if they’ve been experienced before.
2. Make it a good experience
Even if you’ve had nightmares with old dentists or you remember childhood dental visits as the worst experience ever, don’t pass this on to your little ones. Speak positively about going to the dentist and why it’s important to keep getting check ups. You can also add some fun to the experience by taking a favourite book to read or toy to play with. Try not to get nervous on behalf of your child, as this will most likely make them even more fearful.
3. Practice at home
It can be a fun game to pretend to be at the dentist and tip kids back in a reclining chair (if you have one) and take a look in their mouths yourself. Shine a torch into the mouth and make believe at being at the dentist. Although this might seem silly, it will give your child a sense of having been there before when they get to the dentist, which should make it easier to stay calm.
4. Allow for some fussing, don’t bribe
It’s natural if children are nervous about visiting the dentist so allow for a little fear and fussing. Try to avoid offering treats or bribes in return for good behaviour, as this doesn’t really encourage the child to deal with their fear in a positive way. Offering sweets and sugary lollipops in return for being ‘good at the dentist’ is a particularly bad idea as it sends the wrong message about how to care for teeth.
5. Look after their teeth!
Get your children into good habits with brushing, flossing, avoiding too much sugar and drinking plenty of water and dentist visit trauma can be reduced. Ultimately, the healthier the teeth, the easier the visits to the dentist will be.