Creating Little Smiles

Creating Little Smiles

Easing Your Child's Fear of the Dentist

Story by Liesel Schmidt

Unless you’re lying, no one likes going to the dentist. The smells, the sounds, the sitting in the uncomfortable chair with someone’s hands shoved in your mouth for the better part of an hour... it’s just not a pleasurable experience.

As adults, we deal with it. But all of that can be overwhelming and downright scary to a child. So how do you alleviate the fear and anxiety that come with a trip to the dentist?

Start Them Young. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, taking kids for their first dental checkup when they get their first baby tooth or by their first birthday helps them get to know the dentist and get used to the office. It also gives the dentist time to introduce your child to dental instruments, which makes the whole experience less scary. By the time they reach toddler age, your child will know what to expect.

Find a Pediatric Dentist. Unlike general dentists, pediatric dentists actually specialize in the treatment of children and teens. They’ve even gone through additional training that prepares them for both the physical and psychological needs of their young patients, so they know how to explain things in a way that makes kids feel more comfortable. Their offices are also designed with children in mind, right down to the toys and the perky staff.

Do as YOU Say. You probably dread going to the dentist yourself, but don’t let your kids see that. They’ll pick up on any reticence or anxiety you have, so try to speak a bout any upcoming dental appointments or procedures in a positive way. And remember to be relaxed. The more relaxed you are going to your dentist, the more relaxed they’ll be going to theirs.

Role Play. Getting your child ready for the dentist and helping them through any fears they have can be as easy as playing with them. Get their toothbrush and pretend to be the dentist. Show them what happens during their appointment, as best as you can. Have them sit in a chair, inspect their teeth, then brush and floss. When you’re done, have them play dentist, with either you or a stuffed animal playing their patient. Showing them what happens at the dentist helps them grasp the concept and alleviate some of the unknown factors. Doing it in a relaxed, fun way makes them more comfortable.

This story is courtesy of Greater Washington Dentistry
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