A trip to the dentist’s office can be scary for any kid. Sometimes it can be downright paralyzing.
There are many reasons why your child may be afraid of the dentist. Pain, fear of embarrassment, and the anxiety that can come with being confined to a small space with new adults all contribute to the reluctance many kids feel before visiting the dentist.
It doesn’t help that children’s TV and movies often depict dentists as villains who take joy in inflicting pain on their patients.
The good news is that even the most fearful children can overcome their fear of the dentist – if parents take the proper steps to prepare them for their visit.
To help, we’ve compiled a list of things you can do to curb your child’s fear of the dentist and promote good oral health.
Practice (or play!) makes perfect!
Play-based learning works.
To prepare your child for a dentist visit, consider a roleplay exercise. Use a doll or a teddy bear to show your child what to expect when they visit the dentist. Let your child play both dentist and patient.
For extra fun, cast the toy aside and play the role of patient yourself and let your child give you a checkup!
Be sure to adapt your vocabulary so that you are using positive words to describe a trip to the dentist.
Avoid terms like “hurt,” “needle,” and “cavity.” Instead, emphasize the positive aspects of visiting the dentist by using words like “healthy,” “strong,” and “fun.” Instead of getting into the nitty-gritty details of cavities or freezing, tell your child the dentist’s job is to make sure they have a nice, bright smile.
Leave the details to dental staff who know how to explain the complexities of their work to children.
Don’t take your child to your dental appointment.
Some parents are inclined to think bringing their child to their dental appointment is a good way to introduce their little one to the process.
Many experts believe this to be a bad idea. Children don’t always understand what they’re watching.
They may get the wrong idea and think the dentist is hurting their Mommy or Daddy – which will lead to distrust.
Let’s face it. As parents, the temptation to bribe our kids to get them to do what we want is strong.
When it comes to dental visits, however, you must resist the urge. For one, telling your child they’ll get a tasty treat if they behave themselves or “don’t cry” often reinforces negative feelings.
Your child may even wonder “is it that bad that I need to worry about not crying?” Plus, bribing your children with sugar will devalue the dentist’s positive message about good oral health habits.
At the end of the day, the single best thing you can do to prepare your child to visit the dentist is make it fun! Which is what the Adventures of Brushalot is all about!
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