Even the loveliest dental practice with the most caring staff can seem like a scary place for a five year old. The smells are strange, the room looks clinical and dental slang is a whole new language!
Whether you’re an adult or a kid, overcoming your dentist fear is incredibly important. You only get one set of teeth, so you need to take good care of them.
Is your child scared of the dentist? Then this is the article for you.
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Here are 9 great ways to help your kid overcome the dentist fear:
#1 Find the right dentist
Regardless of whether your kid is afraid of going to the dentist or not, you need to make sure you find the right dentist. One of the main reasons why people develop a dentist phobia, is because they’ve had a negative experience.
When you’re looking for a good paediatric dentist the best thing you can do is ask around. Where do your friends go with their kids? Do they know a place that’s just great with kids?
#2 Teach daily oral hygiene
Make it one of your most important parenthood missions to teach your kids about good oral hygiene. Help them brush their teeth twice a day, and when they’re old enough to do it themselves; remind them!
The better you are at taking care of your teeth, the less frequently you’ll have to visit your dentist.
#3 Tell the dentist beforehand
If your kid has a serious phobia, then let the reception know in advance so they can add a note to your kids file. It’ll give the dentist a heads up, and he or she can be a little extra careful.
#4 Talk about it
It’s important to talk about going to the dentist. Be careful to not pass on your fears. If you’re scared of the dentist yourself, they might pick up on this. Mums and Dads are superheroes in kids’ eyes, so if you’re consciously or subconsciously letting on that you’re afraid of going to the dentist – they’re highly likely to be scared too. And that’s a horrible shame, because there’s nothing to be afraid of.
When you talk about the dentist, try to put a positive spin on it. Dentist slang can seem a scary, and words such as shot, pain and hurt aren’t exactly encouraging.
“My favourite thing to have parents tell their child is that we are going to check their smile and count their teeth” Michael J. Hanna, D.M.D., paediatric dentist, Pennsylvania
#5 Arm up means STOP
Come up with a signal for when your kid is in the dentist chair. Arm up means stop. Be sure to explain the rules to your kid, and the dentist; if anything is uncomfortable, if they need a little break, or if it hurts then all they need to do is put their arm up, and the dentist will stop.
#6 Play dentist
Sometimes things seem less scary when you’re more familiar with it. Kids grow up playing lots of different things; hospital, shopkeeper, family, football players and farmers. Why not play dentist with them? There are obviously things you can’t do, and it’s certainly not recommended that you encourage them to put anything inside their mouth. But you can have a look at each others teeth and; score them by how great they look, ask how they brushed them, when they last brushed them, which is their favourite toothpaste, if any of them feel sore or sharp and so on.
#7 Get comfy
Does your kid have a favourite blanket that can make everything seem a little better? Does he/she have a teddy that can cure all things bad? Bring it.
A big part of the dentist fear is that when you go for a check-up, the clinic is unfamiliar territory. If you think it’ll make the trip to the dentist smoother, then bring a little piece of home.
#8 Go regularly
When you go to the dentist regularly, you’ll be able to catch problems on the rise. Sometimes even before they become actual problems. Going to the dentist and coming out with no cause for concern is a very positive experience.
If on the other hand you wait, and only go when something is wrong, the experience can quickly become a negative one. Usually, when you start feeling that something is wrong in your mouth, it’s already quite serious.
Take your kids to the dentist regularly, and make sure that if there are any problems, they are fixed before they get serious.
#9 What about incentives?
There are different views on whether you should offer incentives for things such as going to the dentist. In this specific case the regular reward lollipop sends slightly conflicting messages. Always rewarding your kids when they’ve done something right may have negative long-term effects as they’ll start expecting little gold stars for whatever they do.
That said; if offering an incentive seems like your only option, it’s better than not going. It doesn’t have to be a ‘you do this, and you’ll get this’ incentive necessarily. If you’ve got time, then take a day off. Make a nice day out of it. Go for lunch somewhere, take a walk in the woods, visit granny or do something else that the little one enjoys.
Being afraid of the dentist is a horrible feeling, make sure you talk it over with your kids and do yours to help them overcome it. By ensuring that they’re taught good oral hygiene and that you’re setting a good example, you’re already well on your way! Good luck!
About Buttercup Dental
Buttercup 7 Day Dental is a dentist in Glasgow Scotland. Buttercup was founded in 2011 with the aim of creating a clinic where patients would feel safe and relaxed. At Buttercup, our finest mission is to end our patients’ dentist fear and provide them with a high quality service.
Got any other tips on beating the dental fear? Please give us a shout on Facebook, we’d love to hear from you!