On the list of most feared professionals, the children’s dentist takes the top spot, though adults tend to avoid these oral specialists as well. There’s even a common phobia that is named after our aversion to dentists – dentophobia. But how can we convince our kids that dentists aren’t scary, menacing men and women if we don’t believe it ourselves? After all, adults are just as likely to suffer from dentophobia as kids! Here are a few simple tips that may work for them – and you.
One of the main reasons children are afraid of the dentist is that their parents wait too long to take to take them. This issue can be solved by simply scheduling an initial appointment when you have a routine checkup of your own. Your child will then see that there is nothing to fear from a dental professional as you bravely sit through a simple cleaning.
Avoid Scary Words
You don’t have to discuss dental visits with your kids after they’ve already met the professionals in the office; the dentist is more than capable of doing that and will likely explain better than you ever could. So don’t tell your little ones about “shots” and “pain” before a visit – it only complicates things. But if they do happen to ask about an upcoming appointment, just let them know that they are in good hands with their dental professional. This simple act of reassurance should put their minds at ease.
Bribery Doesn’t Work
Kids must learn that going to the dentist isn’t a punishment; it’s a requirement. Bribing them with a favorite meal or toy will do nothing to allay their fear of having their teeth examined. In fact, it may make things worse. How?
When a parent rewards a child for doing something that is unpleasant but necessary, it lets the child that his or her fear is valid. As a result, the young patient might grow more apprehensive about visiting the dentist’s office. He or she might, in fact, ask for bigger, more expensive bribes in an attempt to avoid an appointment entirely.
The best thing parents can do to allay their children’s fear is to expose little ones to oral care as soon as possible. In most cases, that means using a baby toothbrush to gently brush their teeth and gums as soon as teeth start to show. This simple activity will help them become accustomed to what they will invariably encounter in the children’s dentist’s office.
These simple tips should help your child confront the common problem of dentophobia with a smile.