For many children, a visit to the dentist is about as scary as it gets. Unfamiliar smells, the whine of the drill – not to mention the frightening man in a mask who keeps putting his fingers in your mouth – all of these add up to an unpleasant experience that borders on the terrifying.
Thankfully, there are a few easy steps you can follow to ease fears and make the experience easier for your child, yourself – and your dentist.
- Talking about the visit beforehand is a great way to alleviate anxiety. You may want to explain that your dentist is a friendly doctor who needs to check each tooth is of suitable quality for the tooth fairy.
- Encourage your child to draw a picture of their mouth to show and discuss with the dentist.
- Look out for picture books about the dentist, which may give your child some idea of what to expect beforehand.
- Never use a visit to the dentist as a threat of punishment. This will make actual visits seem a hellish experience. And it gives us dentists a terrible name!
- Avoid using terminology like shots, drill or needles when explaining dentistry.
- Talk to your dentist about your child’s fear before visiting.
- Let your child see you undergo a simple checkup first, so they know there’s nothing at all to worry about.
Choosing a Child-Friendly Dentist
In general, dentists have a much better understanding of children’s anxieties and phobias than in days gone by. If you’re concerned, look for a phobia-certified dentists, or for tell-tale signals like posters and toys in the waiting room which could be a sign that your dentist is child-friendly.