Have you been looking for some tips to help your child overcome fear of dentists? If so, you're not alone. Many children are afraid of dentists and it can be difficult for parents to know what to do. When my son started going to the dentist he was really scared, so we tried several different things to help get rid of his fear. I wanted to share some tips that worked best for us. Hopefully some of these tips will help your child overcome fear of dentists, too.
One way to help your child overcome fear of dentists is by reading with them books about the dentist. There are tons of great ones to choose from such as Dora The Explorer Show Me Your Smile!: A Visit To The Dentist and Elmo Visits The Dentist. Books like these will show your little one what to expect when they visit the dentist. You may want read the book alone before reading it with your child. While I love that there's such a variety of books about going to the dentist to choose from, some of them go into a lot of detail and this could be a bit scary for young children.
2. Role Play
Role playing is another great way to help your child prepare for a dental visit. While role playing with your child, you can have a pretend dental visit. During that time you can do things like count their teeth, look at them in a mirror, and brush them. You can even allow your child to pretend like they are the dentist and you're the patient.
3. Be a Good Role Model
Regardless of the situation, we should always strive to be good role models for our children. It's always important to talk to them about the importance of good oral hygiene. We should allow them to see us while we brush and floss our teeth, as well. You should also tell them that you went to the dentist as a child and that you now go as an adult, too.
4. Positive Reinforcement
As adults, we know that our reward for going to the dentist is having healthy teeth and gums, but that can be difficult for kids to understand. Even though some may disagree, I think that positive reinforcement can be a good thing. Most pediatric dentists give stickers or small toys after each visit and kids love it. My son is only 5 and before each dental visit, he always wants to know if the dentist will give him a ball for looking at his teeth.
5. Start Early
It's a good idea to start dental visits at an early age. Most dentists say that children should be seen by a dentist when their first tooth arrives. By doing this your child learns that visiting the dentist is part of their routine. It's best to find a dentist that your child is comfortable with and stick with that dentist. This will allow your child to form a bond with their dentist and be more comfortable with them.
6. Take along a Distraction
Taking a favorite toy with you to the dentist is a good idea to help a child who is afraid. A favorite toy can be very comforting to a little one. Many pediatric dental practices also have a variety of things to help put children at ease. It's very common for a pediatric dentist to have televisions, video games, and a variety of toys to help patients relax.
7. Watch Your Words
I'm always amazed by how much children are able to remember. If you talk negatively about the dentist to other people, you child may accidentally overhear. This could cause them to become upset. When you talk to your child about an upcoming dental visit, it's best to keep the details of the visit to a minimum.
Having a fear of dentists is very understandable. Has your child ever experienced a fear of dentists? How did they overcome it?