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Helping a Child Who’s Scared of the Dentist

Nov 20, 2023

Helping a Child Who’s Scared of the Dentist

We want the best for our children and a healthy mouth may not be the first thought in child care. But a healthy smile is foremost in all the pictures we take. Dental visits can be very scary for the young, especially if their first experience was less than great. 

Start your child off when they are young. It is recommended that the first dental visit be as soon as teeth appear or by your child’s first birthday. This gets ahead of painful problems and sets a pleasant experience to head off fear. 

If your child is a bit older or you are changing dentists, try a meet-and-greet the day before the actual appointment. This is where the child is walked through what to expect during their actual appointment to ease fears that may build up with the unknown. 

Try these suggestions for a positive dental visit: 

  • Bring a pair of cool sunglasses to help with the bright lights.
  • A stuffed animal to squeeze may be the thing to help calm nerves.
  • Having a parent close by can be a game changer. Hold your child’s hand or if they are small, sit your child on your lap in the dentist’s chair for the appointment. Let the dentist count your teeth to show your child how simple it is to do and what is expected of them.
  • Let the dentist do all the talking with your child. This allows the dentist to build a positive relationship. If questions come up, speak to the dentist after the exam.
  • Make use of the dentist’s TV or use your own music to distract your child from the activity.

What and What Not to Say

If you dread the dentist, your child can pick up on that. Try to remember that this is your child’s appointment and experience and not your own. Be careful what your child hears, since siblings or others often tell dental horror stories. Do not say “Don’t worry” or “It won’t hurt.” Your child will likely pick up on the words “worry” and “hurt”. 

Who to Call

Pediatric dentists have two to three years extra training. Choose a dentist who is specially trained to help your child. Additionally, their offices are designed for children to enjoy. Schedule cleanings with the same hygienist every time. Smile Structure Dentistry has child-friendly dental care. Call for your child’s appointment now for a lifetime of smiles.