If your child has a fear of the dentist, it can be hard to know what to do. You don’t want to make the problem worse, but you have to make sure your child gets proper dental care and treatment. The great news is that there are four effective ways you can help your child overcome his or her fear of the dentist.
Watch and Learn
Many children are fearful of the dentist because they are afraid of the unknown. Face the facts: the dentist can be a scary place with lots of weird noises and strange tools that go in your mouth. To help your child overcome the fear of the unknown, take him with you to your next dental appointment or procedure to watch the action. Most dentists will allow your child to pull up a chair right next to you to see what happens. Once he sees that there is no pain involved and how everything works, a lot of the anxiety will melt away completely.
Prep with Books
During the days leading up to your child’s dentist appointment, go to the public library to check out books on the subject to read with your child. You can check out nonfiction books that explain exactly what will happen at the dental visit or fiction books, so your child can read about his favorite character going to the dentist. The dentist isn’t as scary when your child realizes that some of his favorite characters have to go to the dentist as well. Just talking about it makes it seem less scary.
Play and Pretend
Another effective way to help your child overcome his fear of the dentist is through role playing. Buy a few inexpensive toothbrushes, picks and small mirrors, and let your child pretend to be the dentist. You can take turns being the patient. Allowing your child to play the role of the dentist lets him see that the dentist is human, too. When you act as the dentist, you can show your child what to expect from his own visit.
Work Out Signals
Take a few minutes to work out some basic signals with your child before the dental visit. For example, make up a hand signal that he can show you when he feels scared or when he feels pain. He could hold up one finger if he isn’t comfortable or two fingers when he is hurting. This will alert you, so you can tell the dentist. Once your child knows you will be right there if he needs help, some of the fear may lessen.
You can help your child overcome his fear of the dentist. Just be sure you reward him for a job well done when it’s all over.
This article was inspired by Coquitlam Centre Dental Clinic.
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