For most children — and even some adults — going to the dentist can be a scary thing. The fear of dentists is called dentophobia and 75% of people have it. Dentophobia is usually caused by several reasons. If you want to avoid your children growing up with dentophobia, here’s some useful advice:
- Research your dentists
Make sure to research the clinics you visit. One cause of dentophobia is when a person experiences a dentist who acts uncaring or cold. You definitely wouldn’t want your child to be with that kind of dentist. Ask other parents where they bring their children. Do searches on the internet and read the reviews. You’ll want to visit a good pediatric dentist that knows how to interact with children and is inviting and warm.
- Start them young
The younger you take them to the dentist the easier it’ll be when they’re older. Most parents aren’t sure when to first take their children to the dentist. Colgate suggests bringing them as soon as their teeth start showing up at around the age of one or two years old.
- Give them a heads up
Don’t inform your children that they’re going to have a dentist appointment out of nowhere. Make sure to inform them ahead of their appointment schedule. That way they’ll have time to mentally prepare themselves for the experience.
- Don’t go into too much detail
Dentophobia is fueled by anxiety and overthinking. A person can get dentophobia without ever visiting the dentist. But by simply hearing other people’s experiences, especially negative ones, can already affect how they see dentists. If they ask you questions about the dentist, keep it vague. Don’t give them too many details about what happens at the dentist. And always describe the experience on a positive and light note.
Be careful of the words you use, make sure not to bring up words such as “pain” or “hurt”. Don’t tell them about the time you had to get your wisdom tooth removed, or how you got a root canal. Don’t tell them about how big the needles are. You might think that sharing your own experiences will build some confidence in them. But it might do more damage than good. Don’t give them any more reason to overthink. If you got through the experience with no problem, don’t expect your children to feel the same way.
- Educate them about the importance of good oral health
Instead of telling them about your root canals or wisdom tooth removals. Educate them on the importance of good oral health instead. Tell them that to have strong teeth and a good smile brushing their teeth and flossing is not enough. A regular visit to the dentist will help the most. Teach them that dentists are there to give them extra health and make their teeth extra strong. Something that an ordinary person can’t do by themselves.
- Build trust
Once you’ve found the right dentist for your children, you should stick with them. Allow your children to familiarize themselves with all the staff, personnel, and the environment. That way they’ll learn to trust the dentist more and they won’t be too afraid. They’ll only start feeling more comfortable if they trust the environment that they’re in and the people that they’re with.
- Allow the professionals to do their job
Just as you would like your children to build trust with the dentist, learn to trust the dentist yourself. If your children have any more questions about the experience, what dentists do, what tools they use, allow the dentist to explain it themselves. Dentists that are used to dealing with children will usually have an answer prepared for all kinds of questions kids throw at them. And they’ll answer the questions in the most kid-friendly way they can. Just let them do their job.
If your child is still fussy at the dentist don’t be so surprised. Sometimes kids really can’t help but be nervous about their first experiences. Just remember to be patient and sooner or later they’ll start getting used to it.