Establishing good oral health habits is important, but this is difficult if your kids are scared of going to the dentist! Here are some ideas on how to help control and reduce that fear.
Let Your Kid Open Up to You
When it comes to being afraid, most parents, kids, and child behavior experts will point to the new and the unknown as being a major player. While it may seem bizarre to you that your child is afraid of everyday events and places, keep in mind that while you might have plenty of experience with these things, to your kids it’s all unfamiliar, new, and more than a little scary.
Don’t run roughshod over your kid’s feelings, try to force them to confront their fears without a net, or downplay them. Talk to your child about why he or she is scared of walking into that dentist’s office for the first time and share stories of your own visits to the dentist that turned out just fine in the end. Encouraging them to be honest and upfront about their emotions can lead to conversations about what in particular scares them about visiting the dentist, which makes it easier for you to address. Not only that, but this strategy has additional benefits as it opens up avenues for discussion in the future when your child is afraid of something, or someone, else.
Reduce the Unfamiliarity
A big part of managing your child’s fear of the dentist is to reduce the amount of unfamiliarity they have with such visits. Trips to the dentist occur much less often than trips to the pediatrician, for instance; where a child may see his or her primary care physician a number of times over the year, the likelihood that they will have met their dentist more than once every six months is slim to none.
You can easily rectify this by simply stopping in at your local dental office for an informal visit, either in the waiting room or reception area or just for a quick office visit that doesn’t lead to any dental examinations. You might need to call ahead and schedule such an appointment beforehand if your dental office is busy, but any oral health practitioner that specializes in children will be happy to help reduce your kid’s fear by hosting several short visits over time if it leads to better dental health in the future.
The Importance of Good Oral Health
Taking steps to ensure your child has good oral health practices from a young age is integral to their long-term dental health. This goes far beyond just making sure they brush and floss twice a day – you’ll also have to build a positive relationship between your kid and your family dental practice so that every future visit isn’t a traumatic experience. Additionally, if you want your child to continue to go to the dentist regularly once they grow into their adult years, eliminating or controlling that fear begins now, while they’re still young.
Naturally, this can be challenging, considering how kids are almost hard-wired to be afraid of the dentist. Yet it’s easy to see that you need to take just a few steps to minimize the impact of fear and uncertainty in your child’s life when it comes to visiting the dentist. As long as you can continually reinforce the positive aspects of dental health and dentist visits, you can minimize or even eliminate that deeply-rooted fear that children sometimes have about visits to the dentist.
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