Fear of the dentist is one of the most common phobias there is. In adults, some studies show nearly 1 in 5 people have dental phobia. In children, it’s even more frequent, with one study showing almost half of the participants experiencing anxiety related to the dentist.
While easing fear in adults can sometimes be a matter of reason and willpower, kids are trickier. Knowing how to deal with a child experiencing dental fear can be really tough.
If your kid is scared of the dentist, we’re here to help. Here are a few tips on how to make dental anxiety a thing of the past.
1. Start Young
The best way to beat dental fear is by avoiding it from the start. Dentists recommend getting your child into the office when their first teeth start coming in and no later than their first birthday.
By normalizing this activity at a very young age, you reduce the chances of them ever developing any fear. For kids, so many anxieties are caused by a lack of familiarity and a fear of the unknown. When visiting the dentist is a normal and regular occurrence since they can remember, it loses the mystery that makes it scary.
2. Play Dentist
Playing is one of the ways kids learn important lessons. When you play dentist with them at home, it causes them to associate the dentist with fun. Building those positive associations is key to keeping anxiety to a minimum.
Plus, simply familiarizing them with the concept goes a long way. Playing dentist introduces them to the concept, thereby removing any potentially scary mystery surrounding the concept.
3. Tell Them What to Expect
First of all, you need to have a good grasp of what to expect before you can explain it to your kids. After that, try explaining it to them in simple terms.
Kids need basic and easy to understand ideas, so don’t make it too complex. Run them through the basics in terms they can understand. Let them know what the process is like in order to demystify the experience.
You can also read them storybooks about the dentist. These are specially crafted to help reduce anxiety by familiarizing them with basic ideas about the dentist. It shows them that there’s nothing to be afraid of while educating them about the process in a kid-friendly way.
4. Use Positive Language
Using a positive language with kids is a great thing and this situation is no exception. When you avoid negative language altogether, it prevents any negative associations from forming in a child’s brain.
Try using terms like “smile” and “counting teeth.” Reinforce positive imagery. Avoid words like “hurt” and “painful” altogether.
Kids Don’t Have to be Scared of the Dentist
Even though it’s normal for kids to be scared of the dentist, they don’t have to be. By following these simple tips, there’s a good chance they might never have to experience that anxiety at all.
If your kid is in a need of a dentist, follow tip number 1 and don’t delay. Get in touch with a top-notch pediatric dentist today.