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How to Help if Your Child is Frightened of the Dentist

Posted on 08.11.2014 by perfectsmile

Many people grow up with a fear of the dentist based, perhaps, on a bad experience during their formative years. This is an unacceptable situation because of the detrimental effect it can have on their oral health and, by extension, their general good health. For some people, and in particular children who have yet to have much actual experience of visiting the dentist, the fear can take the form of an actual phobia, and this, if left unchecked can have a devastating effect lasting a lifetime. Tips To Help your child overcome dental phobia A phobia is an irrational fear based on no actual evidence, but arising from within the mind of the sufferer themselves. Some children develop a phobia of the dentist from a very early age and, seeing the distress they are in, parents are sometimes tempted to cut back on the number of times they visit the dentist or else perhaps even stop going altogether. This would be a disaster, however, since visiting a dentist regularly is vital if problems are to be spotted before they become firmly entrenched, and also in the cultivation of the right oral hygiene habits. A child who is comfortable when visiting the dentist from an early age is far more likely to grow up with strong, healthy and appealing teeth, and the good news is that there are a few simple steps which any parent can take to try and alleviate their child’s phobia of the dentist. Positive Steps: Find the right dentist by asking around your friends who have children and discovering the names of dentists they’ve visited who are especially adept at dealing with children. It’s often a question of atmosphere and mood as much as anything else, so visit the clinic on your own first and see if it strikes you as being welcoming and calming.

  • From an early age, establish the importance of looking after their teeth by cleaning them regularly and eating the right food. Explain why healthy teeth are so important and create the idea that going to see a dentist to make sure they are healthy is a normal and sensible thing to do.
  • Before your child’s actual first appointment take them along to the surgery for a casual visit, allowing them to meet the people there and perhaps even try sitting in the chair without having any kind of treatment or even examination carried out. Your dentist should be happy to allow this and, if they aren’t, then it may be a signal that they don’t have the right attitude towards dealing with children.
  • Keep the visits regular, with a gap of six months at the most between check-ups. Not only is this advisable on medical grounds – problems such as poor brushing technique will be noted and dealt with before they cause lasting damage – but it will also help to ‘normalise’ the idea of visiting the dentist, stopping it from seeming too unusual and unnerving.
  • Make sure your child knows exactly what is going to happen to them by explaining, or getting the dentist to explain, precisely what procedures are planned in a manner which they will be able to easily grasp. The fewer surprises there are once your child is sitting in the dentist’s chair, the happier they will be.
  • If you have your own anxiety when it comes to visiting the dentist try to keep this hidden from your child. Children, particularly when very young, tend to mirror and imitate the responses of their parents, so any dental phobia you exhibit will be passed on to them. One plus point is that by supressing your own fear you might actually start to come to terms with it.
  • If your child is feeling anxious make sure you explain this to the dentist. They will be extra careful to adjust the way they interact with the patient and will use techniques and approaches which they have successfully adopted in the past.
  • Adjust the language you use when discussing treatment with your children. You may know that anaesthetic injections and some other types of treatment hurt a little bit, but using words like ‘pain’ or even ‘needle’ when talking to your child will just heighten their levels of stress before they arrive at the clinic.

If your child suffers from dental anxiety then the sooner you take steps to deal with it the better. Inculcating a relaxed and positive attitude towards the dentist will ensure that their teeth are looked after throughout their life. Having a clean, healthy looking smile will provide a boost to your child’s self-esteem and good dental health is also often an indicator of good overall health. If you want what’s best for your child then book an appointment to overcome dental phobia today, and the dentists and other specialists at Perfect Smile will work closely with you in order to change the way they feel.

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