You know that going to the dentist is very important for your oral health, but children often feel scared of the dentist, and it can be hard to get them to go. It’s common to feel nervous before the dentist, however, a serious fear of the dentist could stop your children from looking after their teeth properly in later life. How can you help them to overcome their fear? Read on to find out more:
Find The Right Dentist:
There are dentists who specialize in treating fearful patients, so look for them, or see a family dentist like ÉLAN Dentistry who is used to nervous children. These dentists take extra care to make their office seem less scary. This might mean using soothing photography or music, instead of displaying dental care posters. Sometimes the dentist themselves will dress in more casual clothing instead of scrubs. The sights, sounds, and smells of a typical dentist’s office can be frightening, so removing those triggers can help a lot. Look for a dentist who understands and will work around your child’s fear.
Talk To Them:
Make sure your child understands what will happen while they’re at the dentist. Talk to them about their appointment and explain what will happen (in as non-scary a way as you can manage), so they know what to expect. If they know what will happen, this can make the appointment less scary for them. Ask the dentist to explain what they’re doing throughout the appointment too, so your child isn’t surprised by something they didn’t know would happen.
Look for distractions while your child is in the dentist’s chair. Take some headphones for them and let them listen to music or an audiobook. Find a dentist who has a TV for patients to watch in the chair and put on one of their favorite shows.
Try relaxation techniques:
Controlled breathing can work well. Get your child to take a deep breath, hold it in, then let it out very slowly. This slows the heartbeat and relaxes the muscles. You could also get them to try progressive muscle relaxation, which is when you tense and relax different muscle groups in succession to ease tension.
See the dentist at a less busy time:
There will be fewer people there, so less chance of hearing the noise of dental tools from other rooms. Your dentist is also more likely to have more time to ease your child’s fears and let them take small breaks than they will at busier times when they might be running behind on their appointments. The later you go in the day, the more time your child has to let their fears build up too.
If your child’s fear is becoming a phobia, then it might be worth having them speak with a therapist. Treating a dentist phobia is much like other any other, and is often helped by direct therapeutic exposure. This means your child will be introduced to feared items, such as dental tools, in a controlled, gradual, non-threatening manner.
As mentioned above, being nervous to go to the dentist is completely normal. If your child is fearful of the dentist, try any of the above tips before their next cleaning!
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