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Pediatrics: Overcoming Fear of the Dentist

Pediatrics: Overcoming Fear Of The Dentist

Is your child scared of going to the dentist? You’re not alone. Most children have a fear of the dentist at some point. Biannual office visits can be worrisome for your youngster, but there are ways you can help them relax before their next visit.

Start Young

It’s important to get young children familiar with a dentist office as early as possible. This gives your child a chance to get used to the sights and sounds during visits. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Wisconsin Dental Association, and the American Dental Association recommend your child visits the dentist around their 1st birthday, or within 6 months of the eruption of their first tooth. Kids should understand that good oral health is important and it starts with visiting the dental office.

Talk To Your Child                                                                                                             

Before your visit, answer any questions your child has to ease their fears. Explain in simple terms the process without going into too much detail. Make sure to tell the truth about what to expect but leave out negative words such as “pain,” “hurt” or “uncomfortable.” Sticking to positive words helps so they don’t associate the dentist with a bad experience.

What To Expect

This is a very simple exam, and nothing to fear by either you or your child. One thing that may be different for you as an adult coming in is that we will conduct a “knee to knee exam,” wherein the parent will hold the child on their lap facing them, and have the child lean back onto the dentist’s lap. This helps with kicking and wiggling around, as well as keeping the child comfortable because they’re still attached to the parent. This is also a great opportunity for the parent to ask their dentist questions about their child’s oral health. Finally, we will provide the parent with plenty of information and guidance to ensure a healthy future for their child!

Use Imagination

You can help your child prepare for dental visits by playing “dentist” with them at home. Parents can help play dentist by counting your child’s teeth and using a toothbrush for a pretend cleaning. You can also have your child role-play by using a toothbrush to clean the teeth on a stuffed animal or doll. Reading your child books about dentistry can also help relieve anxiety. Through easy-to-understand language and bright illustrations, your child will have a better idea of what to expect.

Bring A “Friend”

Allowing your child to bring a favorite toy to calm their nerves during the visit can be helpful. Bringing a stuffed animal to hold will help your kiddo feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar place. Encourage your child to bring a “friend” along as a distraction but make sure it’s not too large and won’t get in the way.

Don’t Worry

The best thing you can do as a parent is not worry about your child during a checkup. Know that it’s perfectly normal to be nervous about how your child will act at their visit, but make sure to stay calm. When your child sees that you are nervous, they will also start to worry. It’s also important that you don’t discuss your own dental horror stories about extractions, root canals or other negative experiences in front of your child. Your child may not even have those procedures and it is likely to scare them.

It can be helpful to mention your child’s fears to the dentist to make things smoother for the both of you. Remember, our dental staff is very experienced in pediatric dental treatment. It’s common for your little one to cry, whine and wiggle during their visit, but our team will try to make it as easy for your child as possible.

Request an appointment online for a dental treatment consultation to explore pediatric options for your child with one of our dental professionals.

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