Having fear and stress around going to the dentist isn’t an uncommon issue with children. This is often outgrown, but while it’s occurring it can be a frustrating experience. The good news is there are a number of things you can do to help ease your child’s anxiety around going to the dentist. Here are a few ways you can help your child have a calmer experience at the dentist:
Inform your Dentist of Anxiety Concerns
Shortly before your child’s appointment is to happen, it’s a good idea to let the office know that your child is likely to experience anxiety. You know your child best and want them to go to a dentist whose office will be sensitive to these issues. Many dentist’s offices that are geared toward children have waiting rooms and exam rooms that are decorated colorfully and supplied with coloring books, toys, and televisions. By letting the dentist’s office know that your child may experience anxiety, the staff may also make extra effort to be friendly and help your child feel at ease.
Have Them Visit the Dentist While Young
Just like with going to the doctor, the earlier they begin going to the dentist, the less likely they are to have anxiety because it’s all they’ve known. Starting your child going to the dentist at an older age will make the experience scarier because they’ve never been there before. When you begin going as young as possible, they can also form a relationship with their dentist and the rest of the staff, which will put them at ease.
Explain the Process to the Child
Anxiety often comes from the unknown. If a child is taken to the dentist office and suddenly has someone examining their mouth in a room full of equipment, this may elicit some panic. You can find books and videos for children that will explain going to the dentist in a way they can understand. This is also a good time to let them know there will be toys to play with.
Make it a Fun Experience
Aside from the environment itself being fun for your child, letting them know they will get a little goodie after their exam will create some excitement. You want to make going to the dentist an experience they don’t dread. When you enter the dental office, be sure to point out the fun things. Show them around and let them get comfortable with the place. It might be a good idea to arrive a little early so you have time for this.
Let Them Watch Cartoons
Most dental offices are now equipped with televisions. Does your child enjoy cartoons? If so, consider turning on his or her favorite while at their dental appointment! This can help keep them distracted so that they aren’t distracted by what is going on during the appointment.
Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be a stressful experience for a child. Following these tips will help your child feel more at ease during dental appointments and relieve anxiety.