Alleviating Children’s Fear of the Dentist

Children in general feel apprehensive in new situations, and dentists are no exception. Many kids can become upset and anxious when going to the dentist. There is no cure-all to prepare children or totally alleviate their fears, however there are some simple measures you can take that may make their first dental visits more enjoyable.

Watch your words

As you prepare your child for their dental visit, be sure you use positive words, and avoid negative ones such as “pain” or “needles,” even if they have developed a dental problem that may require treatment. When referring to your own dental experiences, be sure to remain positive. Children pick up on more than we realize, and it’s important not to color their experience at the dentist.

Don’t relate to dental fears

In many situations, relating to your child by sharing your own similar experiences is an excellent way to open up lines of communication. However, when speaking with your child about the dentist, don’t relate by sharing your own dental fears. If they discover you also have a fear of the dentist, they may think there really is something to be afraid of.

Start Early

Before your child is ready for their first dental visit, take them along for your check-up if possible. Allow them to watch your hygiene visit, and perhaps take a ride in the chair so they are able to adjust to the environment before making their own appointment. Sometimes children become upset and anxious just because they need to take in the new environment.

Avoid Bribery

Sometimes bribing can put unnecessary pressure on your child, and it also can set up a future precedent for appointments involving pricy or difficult rewards. Instead, use the experience as an opportunity to instill positive oral health habits.

About the author

A practicing dentist since 1982, Dr. Gary Imm, provides advanced cosmetic dentistry, including smile makeovers, sedation, implant and TMJ services. He is committed to progressive, extraordinary care for his guests. All Smiles Dental Care trains at least 300 hours each year at such prestigious centers as the Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dentistry. (LVI)

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