Helping Kids Conquer Their Fear of the Dentist

It’s not a mystery why children dread going to the dentist. Put yourself in their shoes. You sit there at the dentist’s chair, clueless about the noises from weird instruments, being poked by metal appliances by a stranger. Every visit to the dentist is a struggle for many parents, with some bribing their kids with candies after the session or just skipping the appointment altogether to avoid the tantrums. But there are healthier ways to approach this problem. Here’s how you can help your child overcome their fear of the dentist:

Know the cause of the alarm

As the saying goes, “Knowing your enemy is half the battle.” When you understand what it is your child is fearful of, you’ll be able to discern the adjustments that you need to do. Every child has unique triggers for their fears. Some get anxious when they hear the drilling sounds. Others become uneasy when they’re strapped onto the dentist’s chair. Ask your child directly what’s bothering them when they visit the dentist. From here, you can request the pediatric dentist if they can accommodate some changes to ease their entire experience. If your child has had an unpleasant experience with the last dentist you visited, you probably need a new one.

Highlight the benefit of checkups

Scared girl at the dentist's officeRegardless of the root of their fear, you have to explain to your child the importance of dental visits. That can hopefully trump the anxiety they’re experiencing. Keep your explanations simple, though. Don’t get into the details of drilling and injections. Leave that up to the kid’s dentist. Pediatric dentists in Herriman are trained to make complex terms understandable and less frightening for children. Avoid using the words “painful” or “hurt” when explaining. But don’t tell them that they won’t feel anything, either. If the child ends up feeling pain, they might develop a distrust for you and the dentist. The principle is that you need to highlight the benefits and never give false hope.

Simulate the visit

Days before your kid’s dental visit, do a warm-up exercise through pretend play. Buy some dentist toys and lab coats, and take turns in being the patient and the doctor. What you’re doing here is making them more familiar with the things that they’ll see in the clinic, reducing feelings of uncertainty when they go to the actual one. You’re also wrapping the entire thing in a fun package, so this will help them visualize themselves having fun in the real dental clinic. This might even make them look forward to going to the dentist. Do note that it’s crucial that they’re able to play the role of the doctor so that they feel a sense of empowerment and understand the job of their dentist.

It’s not surprising that kids fear the dentist. The entire experience can be overwhelming for them. But with a bit of patience, good talk, and fun play, you can dispel these anxieties and give a better, more pleasant dental experience to your child.

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