Is Your Child Afraid of the Dentist?

When it’s time for dental check-ups, children are more likely to be terrified than adults. In fact, over a third of children experience fear of visiting the dentist and this can prevent them from having regular check-ups and treatment, which may affect their oral health in the long run.

 

Here at Smilefocus, we have seen and treated numerous phobic patients, especially kids and we have compiled a useful guide on how to help your child deal with dental phobia.

       

                             

Start Early

This may be surprising to many new parents but it is important to start your child’s visit as early as the first birthday, or when the first tooth appear. This allows the dentist to assess and anticipate any potential dental problems rather than treat them.

 

In addition, the dentist can acclimatize your child to dental procedures such as dental assessment using mouth mirrors and tooth brushing/ cleaning. This way, your child will gradually learn that dental visits are not terrifying at all and this acceptance will build trust and confidence that lasts a lifetime. Our Children Dentistry team at Smilefocus provides pediatric services for parents who are looking to bring in their infant for their first dental check-up.

 

ALSO READ: Preparing Your Child’s First Dental Visit

 

Role Play

Get your child ready for the first visit by playing dentist at home, with a toothbrush and a small mirror. You can start by counting your child’s teeth beginning from 1 (or the letter ‘A’) and hold up a mirror to show your child how the dentist will look and examine his/ her teeth.

 

Then let your child role play by using the toothbrush to clean the teeth of a doll or stuffed toy. This is to familiarize your child with the routine for the real visit. It is important that you avoid making the dreaded drilling noises or lining up other ‘instruments’, which may intimidate your child.

 

Keep It Simple

When preparing for the first visit, try not to be too specific or include too many details on treatments that may be involved. Giving away too much information on treatments such as fillings may add unnecessary pressure and anxiety on your child.

 

Avoid using the words ‘Pain’, ‘Hurt’, ‘Drill’, ‘Jab’ or any other pain-associated vocabulary. Instead, use simple phrases such as ‘The dentist is going to check your smile and count your teeth’ to your child.

 

Do Not Bribe

We don’t encourage you to bribe your child with special treats if they behave well at the dentist. Rewarding your child with sweets and lollipops can make them think visits to the dentist are indeed a scary experience. Instead, praise your child for their willingness to meet the dentist.

 

Lead by Example

Bring your child with you for your own dental appointments to show them that there’s nothing to fear. This can be an effective way to start introducing your child to the dentists, however do not bring them to your dental filling appointments as the drilling sound may put them off easily.

 

For parents who are dental phobics, do not bring your child for your appointments as kids can easily sense your anxiety, and this may jeopardize their willingness to visit the dentist throughout childhood and into adulthood.

 

Discuss Their Fears

Show your child that dental phobia is nothing to be ashamed about. Listen and address their concerns and try to alleviate them if possible. Be positive and encouraging in your discussion, explain things clearly (without giving away too much information) and most importantly, be patient with them. Children appreciate if they are allowed to talk and express themselves but don’t laugh or tell them how silly their fears are and that there’s nothing to worry about.

 

Do Not Relate

Parents, remember to keep your childhood dental trauma to yourselves. Children have no pre-conceived ideas on dental visits and therefore should have no reason to be scared and fearful of the dentist. By telling your child of your past tooth extraction, root canals and describing how painful it was will definitely trigger fear and anxiety.

 

Always remember that it is completely normal and age-appropriate for a young child to whine, cry, wiggle, and not want to be examined by someone they are not familiar with. It is important that parents stay calm and let our dental care professionals at Smilefocus guide you throughout the treatment.  Call us at 6834 0877 or book your dental appointment here.

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