Going to the dentist can be very unsettling for many young children. A dentist looking inside a child's mouth, as well as unfamiliar objects and noises, can be scary for the child. Many adults who have a fear of the dentist had a traumatic dental experience as a child. Doing everything possible to make your child comfortable now will help them be more at ease as an adult. If you know your child is very nervous, there are several different things you can do to prepare for the appointment to help your child overcome anxiety.
Helping Your Child Overcome Dental Anxiety
- Let the dentist know when you make the appointment that your child might be nervous. This will allow the dental staff to prepare the upcoming appointment and do everything possible to help put your child at ease.
- If your child has a favorite small toy or stuffed animal, bring it to the appointment. Having a comforting object will help your child stay calm and ease anxiety.
- Have story time! There are many books for children about visiting the dentist. Find them at your local library or bookstore and read them to your child. This will help your child know what to expect from the appointment.
- A child's emotional response will typically be similar to the parents' response. If you are anxious, you child will most likely be anxious. It is better to keep calm and demonstrate there is no reason to be nervous about the appointment.
- Be careful about the words you use to describe the appointment to a child. Using words such as shot, pain, hurt can scare a child. Try using positive words. Tell your child the dentist is going to count all your teeth and look at your smile. Never joke about how it is going to be painful or share your dental stories if it might scare your child.
- Ask the dentist and staff how you can help make the appointment go smoothly. Sometimes it is better for the parent to be in the room. Sometimes it is not. The staff may need you to help calm your child. Do not assume the staff is able to successfully tell your child what to do. They may need you to reinforce directions so your child knows that it will be okay.
- There are many other things you can do to help your child. Be creative! Try to show excitement about the appointment and describe it as a fun outing. Your excitement will help get them excited! If you have any questions or concerns about the upcoming visit, never hesitate to call the dental office.
Call our Webster Groves Dental to book your child's first appointment with our gentle dental office.