Expert Advice

5 Things Parents Can Do to Help Kids Conquer Their Fear of Dentists

dentist

Kids are scared of many things. Among others, one thing that they fear the most is the dentist!

The mere mention of the word “dentist” alone can already make the little ones frantic.

As parents, you are probably looking for the best ways to help them conquer such fear. It does not have to be a nightmare. Keep on reading to learn from the things that we’ll share to help your kids love and not fear a dental visit.

1.     Be Straightforward

Things don’t have to be complicated if you want children to love their dentist. The first thing to do is to talk to them about it, especially if they are already at an age when they can start understanding things. Keep your conversations short and straightforward, so you can have their full attention.

Having a chat will help in their mental preparedness, especially before a dental visit. Be straightforward about where you are going and what will happen. Explain to them why such a visit is necessary. Make them understand that a dental visit is one thing that other kids have to go through. Be sure to make them realize that it is for their own good.

During your talk, highlight as well the consequences of not going to the dentist. Let them know that it can be the culprit of tooth decay. By emphasizing the repercussions, they might realize that seeing a dentist is a must.

2.     Read Books

Reading to your child is one of the best bonding activities you can enjoy. While there is a long list of books that you can read to your little ones, make sure to include those that talk about their teeth and dental health.

One of the best books about dental health is “The Tooth Book” by Dr. Seuss. It talks about the purpose of the teeth, as well as how children can take care of them. “The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist” by Stan and Jan Berenstain is also a good pick. This will help children become familiar with what they can expect when they visit a dental office. “Curious George Visits the Dentist” by H.A. Rey is also a great book to help your child not be scared of a dental visit.

When choosing a book to read to your child, look for those with colorful characters. The illustrations will help engage your little reader.

3.     Brush Your Teeth Together

You are probably wondering, how does brushing together help children to not fear the dentist? The reason is simple—it keeps their teeth healthy. It will prevent tooth decay and will let them smile with confidence. In turn, they will not be scared to show it to the dentist.

To encourage the little ones to brush their teeth regularly, find the most suitable toothbrush for their age. It should be compact and lightweight. An ergonomic design and a good grip are also must-haves. Plus, it should have a kid-friendly design, incorporating their favorite characters and colors.

Aside from picking the right toothbrush, you must also make their brushing time fun. One of the best things to do is to play music. Dance while brushing teeth together, and this could turn out to be one activity that they will look forward to.

By encouraging children to follow a toothbrushing routine, they will know how important good oral health is. In turn, this will encourage them to visit the dentist and not be scared.

4.     Try Make-Believe Play

Make-believe play is a good activity that kids will enjoy. It will encourage their creativity while also helping build social and communication skills. It can even teach them a sense of empathy. Because it is fun and engaging, this will be another effective way to help children conquer their fear of a dentist. 

During the make-believe play, let your child act as the patient and you as the dentist. Try to mimic the real-life happenings in a dental office. Make sure that your child is in a comfortable position. It is also good to use toys that look like dental tools, which will make the little ones familiar with the actual things that they will see upon visiting a dentist.

Set up a reclining chair, which will act as the dental chair. Use light and ask them to open their mouth. Pretend that you are examining their mouth. Count their teeth. Talk about dental treatments like x-rays. See to it that they are at ease throughout the make-believe play.

During make-believe play, you are opening the minds of children to new perspectives. You are letting them experience first-hand what will happen once they are in a dental office. You can explain what they can anticipate. 

5.     Use Positive Reinforcement

Another thing that can work in overcoming a child’s fear of the dentist is positive reinforcement. The latter is a research-based practice that rewards positive behavior with the hope that it will happen again in the future. This gives children something to look forward to while encouraging them to do something that is good for their well-being but which they are hesitant to do—such as a dental visit.

Many pediatric dentists will provide toys, stickers, and other treats that will make children smile. Before you proceed to the dentist, talk to your child about what they can expect, such as a good smile. Take them out after their dental appointment. Treat them to ice cream or bring them to an amusement park. Simple rewards like such will help in minimizing their hesitancy. 

Conclusion

It is natural for children to fear dentists. At a young age, they will despise dental visits because of the fear that treatments will hurt. As parents, you must have a proactive approach to eliminating such a fear. Reading books and make-believe play are some of the things that can help make them more at ease and look forward to the day that they will be seeing a dentist.

Written by Chelsea Smith

Chelsea Smith is a content creator who writes about a variety of topics, especially around dental health. She has been promoting proper dental care through her work, and urges everyone to visit their dentists regularly.