In the USA, 36% of people are scared of the dentist — and that percentage is far higher in children.
Why are people so afraid? Usually, it’s because of the pain associated with dental procedures, although most are painless these days thanks to medication and anesthesia when it’s necessary. Some people are afraid because of the embarrassment associated with their teeth.
For children, it’s usually fear of the unknown. They don’t have much experience with the dentist, or perhaps even one singular bad one that has tainted their memory.
So if your child is terrified of the dentist, how do you fix it? By following these tips!
Never, ever tell your child horror stories about the dentist or about a bad experience you had. In children, dental anxiety is only likely to worsen with these stories.
Instead, treat the dentist as a no-big-deal experience. Reassure them that everyone goes and there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Always Insist They Go — Even When It’s Hard
If you’re researching how to prepare your child for the dentist, it’s likely your child is already having a hard time with it. When scheduling an appointment and witnessing their distress, it might be tempting to cancel.
You should never do this.
Always be gentle, but insist they go and see every appointment through. Putting the dentist off will only make things worse when they finally go, both mentally and for their oral health.
By visiting every six months, their oral health will be kept up to scratch and they won’t experience procedures that might reinstate their anxiety all over again.
Research Pediatric Dentists in Your Area
Although you might take your child to the same dentist you visit, it’s worth researching a pediatric dentist in your area. They specialize in children!
If your child has other factors that may influence their anxiety, such as autism, it’s worth researching dentists that have experience with this. Learn more here.
After a scary visit to the dentist is over, make sure to reward your child! Let them have their favorite food for dinner, or buy them a new toy if it’s in their budget.
You don’t have to spoil them by any means, but giving them some positive reinforcement will start to rewrite their brain. The next time a dentist appointment is coming up, they’ll remember the reward afterward and it might get them through it and lessen their anxiety.
Everyone’s Scared of the Dentist, but the Fear Should Be Manageable!
It’s important to remember that it’s normal to be scared of the dentist. Don’t be frustrated with your child or even get angry with them — work with them to bring their fear down to a manageable level.
Research the dentist you take them to, be reassuring, and see the appointments through. Their fear will improve in no time!
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